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Full text of "Dita"

D IT A 



BY 

LADY MARGARET MAJENDI& 



86 This Is the prettiest low-born lass that, ever 

Ran on the green-sward: nothing: she does, or S66E3S, 
But smacks of something greater than herself; 
Too noble for this place. 1 ' 

WINIEB'S T&LB. 



NEW YORK: 

OEORGE MUNRO'S SOXS, PUBLISHER^ 

2? TO gT VANPEWATEK STREET. 



DITA. 



CHAPTEE I. 

"HooT, man! wake up, Minister! Canna ye wake for 
ance in your life, Minister! Mr. Malcolm! ye're speired 
for frae Dunmonaigh!" Master Malcolm Farquhar was 
in bed, and, wearied by two long sermons for it was the 
evening of Sunday he slept soundly. 

The wind roared round the bleak little manse, and the 
rain deluged the windows, sweeping down the valley with 
a hissing sound; but the noise had no power to wake the 
weary Minister. Kerenhappuch, the honest servant, who 
formed the whole domestic household of the manse, was 
fain to take him by the shoulders, and give him such a 
shake as could not fail to rouse him. 

" There," she said,, stopping to get back her breath, as 
she saw the gleam of returning consciousness in Master 
Malcolm's blue eyes. " Ye're ill to waken, Minister!" 

"What's the matter now, Huppie?" he said, rousing 
himself, and sitting up. 

"Matter! there's matter eneugh! Here's Willie come 
down frae Dunmonaigh my Lady Grisel's speiringfor ye, 
and she says ye maun come awa' doun as fast as ye can 
win." 

" But what can it be? are they ill? can you not tell me?" 

" Yon^ll just pit on your bit duds, Meeuister; I'll no be 
telling ye till ye're nigh upon ready." 

Knowing that to argue with his housekeeper was but 
waste of time, the Minister rose from his bed, and began 
to dress himself in haste, in great anxiety. He would 
willingly have continued the conversation through the 
closed door; but to his imploring repetition of " What 
will it be, Huppie? hi\s anything terrible happened?" 



2138624 * 



DITA. 



Huppie vouchsafed no response whatever, and he eould 
only hasten the more. 

When fully dressed, he emerged from his room, a strong 
hale man of fifty, with a kind but rugged countenance, Ins 
gray hair brushed back under a Glengarry bonnet, and a 
stout stick in his hand. 

Huppie stood waiting, holding a lantern, and with her 
shawl pinned tightly over her head. 

'You'll not be coming with me, Huppie," said Master 
Malcolm; " it's a wild, rough night!" 

Huppie tossed her head, and led the way out into the 
darkness. The first blast of wind, as they left the shelter 
of the house, made both stagger back, and it was not till 
they reached a place where the path was sheltered by trees, 
that Kerenhappuch found her tongue. 

'' There's been a terrible accident doun at Dunmonaigh " 
she said, "and the young laird has been brought hama 
man- dead than alive. Yon Willie (useless carle!) says 
-hat there's nae hope noo but in the mercy of God for 
ilka bane in the puir lad's body is broken." 
" God help him! how did it happen?" 
Again Kerenhappuch was forced to pause, overpowered 
by the gust of wind and rain which met them as they 

turned a corner: then she went on 

"It's all Maister Ewan's fancy for yon wild brute that 
Willie had christened Beelzebub. The laird himsel wouldna 
ride him, I m tauld; but Maister Ewan must aye be doiuo- 

what nae ither body wad dream of; and this mornino- " 

This morning, the Sabbath!" groaned the Minister. 
Ihis morning he must up, when ither decent folks 
were at the kirk, and awa' to Strathluan, where he goes 
maist days: and he rode Beelzebub." 
" Hush, Iiuppie!"'' 

"I maun use the brute's lawfu' name," said Huppie, 

obstinately " He could na have left Strathlnan three 

3 behind him, when doun comes the rain, and the wind 

S ai ;s the rain fly in Beelze m the black horse's eyes: 

and Willie, wha saw the young laird pass by to his death 
says that nae power on earth could gar him stop; he was 
mad wi fury and rage, and doun Monaigh hill they came: 
and the black horse had the bit in his teeth, and he 
Jookit neither to right nor to left, but awa' doun the road 
to the loch." 



DITA. O 

" God be merciful to us!" said the Minister. 

" Ay, maister, ilka drop of blood froze in Willie's body, 
for he saw what maun come. Maister Ewan held on like 
the deil hirnsel, and he might hae stoppit ony ither horse 
but yon at the corner. As they passed, Willie gaed siccan 
a skriech that ye couldna tell what it might be, and the 
young laird gied him ae look as he passed, with his hands 
weel doun, and grasping the black horse's mane; bu.t when 
he was come to the dyke,, he loosed his twa hands sudden- 
ly, and struck hard wi' whip and spur. Weel, Willie saw 
his thocht, to gar the black horse loup ower the dyke and 
awa' into the loch; but wae's me? it is steep, and he 
couldna stop for the loup. He struck his broad chest on 
the dyke, and awa' they went thegether, till ye couldna 
tell whilk was the man and whilk was the beast, till they 
stoppit half in and half out of the water; and the black 
horse had broken his back, and the young laird was mair 
like to a corpse than a living man." 

11 Pray God he may yet be alive!" cried Master Mal- 
colm, hastening his steps almost to a run. 

" Not that gate, Minister!" cried. Huppie, interrupting 
him, as he turned down the narrow road leading to the 
loch. 

" Ye'll no cross the loch the night?" 

" I must do so it takes two miles off the road; there 
is no time to lose." 

" But it's a fearsome night!" 

" 1 know every stone in the loch, so do not be afraid, 
Huppie; it is not the first time I have crossed at night." 

They were descending the path which led abruptly to 
the edge of the mountain lake, on the northern shore of 
which stood Dunmonaigh Castle. They could say no 
more, for their words were unheard in the whistling and 
howling of the wind. 

It was a good fortune that made the moon shine out 
for one moment, uncertain and wavering, struggling and 
wading through heavy cloud?, but giving sufficient light 
to enable Master Malcolm to draw the boat out of a 
sheltering hole in the rock, and begin to unloose the oars. 

Huppie, whose nerves were roused to the highest pitch 
of excitement, now suddenly uttered a scream.- 

"What's that, Maister Malcolm what's that?" she 
cried, trembling. 



6 DITA. 

Down the path they had just quitted, they perceived a 
figure running swiftly after them. 

" It is some one who needs our help," said the Minister, 
severely. He hated unreasonable fears, and he went a 
few steps back to meet the new-comer. 

"If you are a Christian, as you are a human being, 
help me in my need!" cried a voice through the darkness, 
the sound of which Master Malcolm recognized. 

" Assunta!" he said; "you here? at this hour?" 

"Is it you? ah, be merciful! take me to Uunmonaigh; 
there are yet two miles by the road, and they tell me he is 
dying!" Her voice rose almost to a scream. 

" Get in and seat yourself," said the Minister, gravely; 
and taking the oars, he began to row out into the lake. 

Assunta cowered down into the bottom of the boat, 
folding more closely in her arms the little child she 
carried. 

"Assunta," said the Minister, solemnly, "is it well 
that you should be here now?" 

" Alas! signore, to say farewell Maria santissima, help 
me!" she cried, wildly. 

Tlio Minister said no more. The wind lashed the loch 
up with a restless, surging movement, and it needed all 
his attention to row safely to land. 

Lights flitted backward and forward through the long, 
dark passages of Dunmonaigh; backward and forward 
hurried bewildered and terrified servants; but in the sick- 
chamber all was profoundly still, except for the deep- 
drawn breathing of the dying man. 

The little group were gathered around him of his 
nearest of kin Lady Grisel, his mother, who tended him 
with a rigid countenance, all her life's lessons in self- 
control now summoned to her aid; beside her, her second 
sun Angus, whom she loved far better than hapless Ewan. 

Angus's face was strange, so dire were the conflicting 
passions that altered its expression from moment to mo- 
ment us his keen blue eyes were fixed on his dying brother. 
Angus should have been the eldest son all agreed in 
that; his was the clear intellect, the power of organiza- 
tion, the steady self-respect. Poor Ewan was the ne'er- 
do-weel, full of heart and affectionate, but self-willed, 
weak, and extravagant. Was the birthright to be his at 
last? Was fortune to smile on Angus, the dearly-prized 



DITA. , 7 

inheritance to fall to him, hitherto a penniless younger 
son? Was he on the eve of possessing all, heir of the 
almost fendal power Macmonacli inherited with his blood? 
Angus strove hard to pray that his brother might yet be 
spared, but tof long had he yielded to envy and covetous 
longings to resist the tempter now, and his lips would 
not frame the words, and his heart would not utter 
tbe lie. 

Lady Grisel moved to and fro, and moistened her son's 
lips with brandy, and the doctor sat with his finger on 
his pulse, waiting till the deep-drawn breaths should grow 
slower and fainter. 

There came a soft knock at the door, and Lady Grisel 
opened it noiselessly. "The Minister is come," said a 
whispering voice, and Lady Grisel went out to him, and 
closed the door behind her. 

The great door and entrance to Dunmonaigh opened on 
to the mainland, but a small side or postern door in the 
great hall opened on to the loch, and from this half-a-dozen 
steps descended into the water; here the boats unladed 
and were fastened to large iron rings in the wall. 

Master Malcolm had fastened his boat, and by the light 
of the lantern which Kerenhappuch held up at arm's- 
length standing in the stern, he half supported, half car- 
ried Assunta up the steps and into the hall. 

The Minister took off his great cloak, throwing it on a 
gtool, from which, before long, the water with which the 
garment was saturated streamed on to the floor. 

The hall was but dimly lighted by two brass lamps 
which stood on the great stone chimney-piece, and As- 
sunta, faint and cold with terror, shrank into the shadow 
thrown by theAvide mantel-shelf, so that when Lady Grisel 
passed into the hall, she only perceived the tall figure of 
the Minister and Kerenhappuch who stood by the postern. 

"You have come to a bed of death, Master Malcolm," 
she said, and her voice sounded cold and passionless. 

"Ay, Lady Grisel, God help the poor lad through the 
valley of the shadow of death I am come to pray by him 
and with him." 

Lady Grisel shook her head, and her hands clasped each 
other tightly. 

" Too late," she said; " before another hour is past, he 
will be called to give an account of his stewardship." 



8 EITA. 

A look almost of displeasure crossed the Minister's gen- 
tle face, as he said, "God is merciful!" 

She turned toward the door, and motioning with her 
}iand that he should follow her, led the way. 

Assunta started up and followed them swiftly with the 
child in her arms. 

"Ewan, the Minister has come to you," said Lady 
Grisel, bending over her dying son. "Have you no word 
of repentance?" 

She held the candle full in his dimmed sight, she spoke 
loud, but there came no response except the labored 
breathing no movement of the half-shut eyelids. 

" He shouldna be vexed, Leddy Grisel," said the doc- 
tor, tenderly; "man-canna help him the noo;" and he 
moistened the white lips again. 

Noiselessly As&nnta had stolen to the door, but now she 
burst from Huppie's hands, who would fain have held 
her back, and, throwing her shawl back from her face, 
she rushed forward to the side of the dying man. She 
threw herself on her knees, and the agony of her voice 
filled the astonished bystanders with momentary a\vo. 

"Ewan! Ewan! it 'is I! Speak to me! look up, my 
own! Ewan, I have brought my child look xip^ rny 
heart! my treasure! it is I ah, speak to me!" 

' Take her away," said Lady GrisePs stern voice, and 
she looked to the Minister and the doctor, but neither 
moved. Assunta had laid her child on the pillow; she 
leant over the dying man, and her cry rose louder than 
ever 

"Ewan! once more one word you never say me nay 
look at me speak to me only one word! God! oh 
God, have pity!" 

"'Take her away," repeated Lady Grisel, hoarsolv, then 
suddenly started back, for Ewan Macmonach's eyes 
opened wide, his broken arms were useless, but by the 
mighty strength which had made him famous on the 
country-side, he raised himself in bed, and said loudly 

"Mother! Assunta, my " No more: the false 

strength left him and he fell back. Huppie, who had 
crept in, caught Assunta in her arms and pressed her to 
her breast. Lady Grisel knelt down till the death-struggle 
ceased. 

" Lord, help now thy servant, as he passeth through 



D1TA. 9 

the valley of the shadow of deaih." Even as the words 
of the Minister ceased, they saw it was over. 



CHAPTER II. 

ONE by one they withdrew, drawing back as those draw 
buck who feel that their work is finished. The unfortu- 
nate Assunta remained kneeling by the bed, clinging fran- 
tically to the clothes, to the hand they would have re- 
moved from her grasp. 

" Take her away," whispered Lady Grisel again, and 
this time Master Malcolm obeyed. The child, still an in- 
fant, began to wail; Lady Grisel started at the sound, but 
the mother gave it no heed: Kerenhappuch took it from 
the bed. 

The doctor and the Minister raised Assunta to her feet, 
her eyes still fixed; they undid one by one the clinging 
fingers; they carried rather than led her to the door, where 
sense forsook her, and she fell insensible to the ground. 

The two men laid her on a settle in the hall, and the 
doctor knelt down beside her and chafed her cold hands. 

Lady Grisel sat down by the fire. The wind was howl- 
ing, and the rain beating outside. Angus came and 
stood by his mother: he was deadly pale. There was a 
profound silence, the clock ticking heavily, and the doc- 
tor's movements sounded loud and distinct. 

At last Lady Grisel rose: she put her hand on the Min- 
ister's arm and drew him aside. " Alas!" she said, (i dis- 
grace as well as grief has fallen on Dunmonaigh." 

" Lady Grisel," said Master Malcolm, solemnly, " I be- 
lieve her to be his wife." 

" You know not what you say Master Malcolm," she 
answered; " Ewan Macmonach was never married." 

" Ewan never was a villain," said the Minister, firmly. 
" Man and boy have I known the lad, and his heart was 
as true as steel, and he was the soul of honor." 

"That girl his wife!" cried Lady Grisel " the daugh- 
ter of an Italian adventurer, a stranger to us and not of 
our creed, would you " 

"Ewan!" that faint imploring voice came from the set- 
tle; con scion sues had returned to Assunta: one wild look 
from her great dark eyes, and she staggered to her feet, 



10 DITA. 

Lady Grisel turned to the fire, and away from the un- 
happy girl. Terrible was that return to consciousness; 
moans burst from her lips, and her hands were wrung to- 
gether; she crossed the room and threw herself on her 
knees before his mother. 

"Has he told you?" she cried; "has he acknowledged 
me and our child"? Pie was all I had in the wide, wide 
world, and he is gone. I am his wife, laay his own wife 
and he is dead. Have pity on me have pity on his 
child I am Ewun's wife!" 

Lady Grisel for one moment turned and stooped over 
the unhappy girl, but started, for she felt Angus's cold 
hand on her shoulder, and heard him whisper 

"Mother, say nothing do nothing: this claim must be 
proved." 

" Yes," said Lady Grisel, turning to the Minister. " If 
she can prove it, Master Malcolm, bring her to in e as my 
son's wife till then, will you care for her?" 

" Hear me, lady!" cried Assunta, once more; "you will 
not cast us out. It is not for myself, it is for Ewan's 
child; Ewan is mine my husband and you are his 
mother." 

Lady Grisel drew her gown gently from the poor girl's 
grasp and rose from her seat; Assunta fell forward with 
her face hidden on the chair. 

Again Lady Grisel would have spoken, but once more 
Angus interposed "Come away, mother," he said; and 
turning to the Minister, added, " These ravings are most 
painful and unseemly, Master Malcolm; may 1 beg of you 
to remove this girl?" 

The Minister bowed, and approached with a look of 
deep sadness. 

" Come, my poor child," he said "come home with 
me; to-morrow we will talk of these things." 

She rose up at his words, looking blindly round her 
and clinging to his hand. He led her toward the door; 
then she stopped, and pressing her hands on her heart, 
she said 

"Stop, Padre, I have forgotten my child." 

Kerenhappuch brought her the little one, and the 
Minister wrapped a great plaid round them both. He 
opened the door and looked* out on the lake; the water 
Burged sullenly up and down, but the moon had struggled 



DITA. 11 

through wild, broken clouds, and edged them with fitful 
light. Kerenhappuch unfastened the bout, and now 
took the oars herself; slowly the Minister followed, sup- 
porting Assunta, and with a strong thrust Huppie rowed 
off into the loch; then Assunta looked back, and she 
threw up her arms to heaven, uttering one agonized 
cry. At that sound Lady Grisel came out on the steps, 
and stood watching the boat making its slow way over the 
black water, and through the sound of the wind and rain she 
could hear the wailing of the little child. Then she re- 
turned to her sou, and they were alone. Lady Grisel put 
her hand on his arm, and looked into his face 

" You believe nothing of all this, mother?" s&id An- 
gus, restlessly. 

Lady Grisel sat down, and rested her brow on her hand 

" What can I say, Angus?" -she said. 

" You cannot believe it; on the very face of it is false- 
hood." 

" Ewan was never false." 

He shook his head impatiently. "Why should he 
have deceived us by concealing his marriage? Tell me 
jou do not believe it. Why, look you, mother, it cannot 
be true it is quite impossible; why do you not speak?" 

" If it be true." said Lady Grisel, " the proofs will be 
forthcoming: till then, Angus, let it rest." 

"But," said Angus, faltering for one moment, "if it 
should be true?" 

" Then the child of this strange woman will be the 
heir." 

"It must be proved to be a lie: mother, why do you 
not say it is impossible?" 

For one moment her self-command gave way, and she 
wrung her hands. 

" Why, Angus, do you ask me why I say nothing? Be- 
cause I see nothing on any side but sorrow and trouble, 
disappointment or dire disgrace; I can bear no more 
now," and she left the room. 

Angus paced up and down he could not be still. Was 
the golden cup just placed to his lips to be dashed thence 
by cruel fortune? It was hard, bitterly hard: his teeth 
ground together, and the drops stood on his brow as tho 
thought pressed on him that it might be true; his very 
knowledge of his brother's headstrong but honorable nat- 



12 DITA. 

ure added to his feara. What did that dying effort mean 
when all effort had seemed impossible? Angus's dread 
grew more and more; he could scarcely suppress the agi- 
tation which swelled his breast almost to bursting. He 
had so longed for the wealth so lavishly spent by his 
brother; it had seemed to him to be the only thing worth 
having, the key to power, the stepping-stone of ainbiiion 
and it had been so nearly within his grasp. When the 
men had brought poor Ewan home to die. Angus had 
striven hard for a natural feeling of grief. He had knelt 
beside his brother and held his hand and listened to encli 
groan, telling himself that they pierced his heart, that 
tlu-y were agony to him; and when the doctor pronounced 
his verdict, he mistook the tears that rose to his eyes 
for genuine grief. But the heart knoweth its own bitter- 
ness; and the tears he was shedding now the unmanly 
tears drawn by the intense irritation of suspense and dis- 
appointment were a thousand times more genuine. 

The morning had begun to dawn, and the cold blue 
light shone in on the deserted rooms; all the servants 
were gone to bed save the watchers in the death-room, 
when Lady Grisel stole down once more to gaze on the 
face of the dead. The women drew back when she en- 
tered and left her alone; the dreary light filled the room, 
and outside the wind had sunk to a whispering moan. 

Lady Grisel stood looking on her son, and visions 
passed before her, not of the marble form on which she 
gazed, but of what once had been; of blue eyes gleaming 
With youth and strength of yellow curly hair of the 
tall, stalwart figure, the first m hurling the stone, the 
truest shot, the keenest sportsman, the idol of his men, 
and now how still! Had she ever loved him as he 
should be loved? Old days came back to her mind, her 
husband bending over the" boy, bidding him dry his tears, 
for his mother should not chide him, and she saw books 
and tasks flung aside, and father and son away to the 
mountains, both untaught and unlettered, but bright 
find beautiful and strong: could it then be strange that 
her disappointed ambition should turn from these and 
center on clever, industrious Angus. 

These visions fled, and she saw only the closed eyes, 
the still brow, and knew that her son was dead. 

A\ hat was this feeling rising in her breast? She turned 



DITA. " 13 

away -with clasped hands she must go anywhere away 
for she felt that within her was a feeling that, were it 
not mightily suppressed, would rise up into an uncon- 
trollable agony. 

Sometimes when in life one is denied the power of in- 
spiring love, Death, cruel or kind, comes in, bringing ret- 
ribution in his hand: the living man dies, and from his 
ashes Death creates a love that is all agony, and so avenges 
him. 

Angus was at the door when she came out, and she put 
her hand into his that he might lead her away, her heart 
yearning for sympathy. As they went together, one of 
the women touched Angus's arm, and held out something 
to him. It was his brother's signet-ring. A strange 
feeling made him shiver from head to foot as he placed it 
on his finger. 

CHAPTER III. 

ASSTJNTA had placed herself and her child unhesitating- 
ly in the hands of worthy Master Malcolm, and with the 
true charity of his kindly nature, he took in the friendless 
woman, housed and feu her, and administered to her 
broken spirit. Till the funeral of the young laird should 
be over, he would not question or disturb her; and indeed 
she seemed to be in no wise capable of answering ques- 
tions, but sat with vacant eyes, bending over her child, 
and rocking herself to and fro; but when that solemn day 
had parsed by, the Minister judged it best to hear Assunta's 
story before inquiries were made from Dunmonaigh. 

Assunta de' Carol i was the only child of an unfortunate 
political refugee. While she was still a little child, 
Leone de' Caroli had been forced to flee from his native 
country with her and her young mother: the latter fell 
an easy victim to the colder climate of the north of Scot- 
land, whither motives of economy and the necessity for 
secrecy had induced them to come, and Assunta was left 
to the sole guardianship of her father. She adored him; 
she entered fully into the wild political schemes he formed 
in his imaginative brain; she aided him in a thousand 
secret correspondences, all of which, one after another, 
crumbled away to be replaced immediately by still more 
secret and extravagant plans. De' Caroli's family was 



14 DITA. 

noble, but impoverished like himself by political intrigue, 
o the exile and his child were at times in actual need. 

In the midst of this poor and half-fed life, Assunta 
grew up and developed into a lovely girl. Her education 
had not been neglected, for her father was a well-read man, 
but it had been careless and desultory. She was fond of 
wandering in the woods which covered the hills at the 
back of the town of Strathluan; she loved the scent of 
the fir-trees and the crimson heather; and here one day 
she met with Ewan Macmonach, his gun on his shoulder, 
surrounded by dogs; and again and again would Ewan re- 
turn, and the dogs grew to know her so well, that they 
would leap and fawn on her as she came up the path; and 
when yellow-haired Ewan and dark-eyed Assunta walked 
slowly "through the heather, the timid deer rejoiced, for 
they were safe. 

Sometimes De' Caroli would join them, but of tener they 
were alone and entertained each other well. 

One day Ewan told Lady Grisel that he had set his 
heart on making Assunta his wife: her displeasure was 
indescribable. She was a stern Presbyterian; her horror 
of the "idolatry of Eome " was one of the strongest feel- 
ings of her religion. 

Ewan was not learned, was less clever than other men, 
simple in his tastes, throwing away money foolishly, act- 
ing on impulse, loving the free open air, and the exercise 
of his herculean limbs: he could neither plead nor argue; 
his mother's bitter words and opposition hurt him her 
threatened curse disarmed him. Ewan loved peace, and 
in his bewildered grief he entreated Assunta to assent to a 
private marriage, only to be secret for a while, a short while, 
till he should have brought his mother to listen to his suit. 
Assunta loved him too dearly to refuse. Love of mystery 
was one of the curses of De' Carol i's character: he knew 
that his health was failing; it was all-important to him 
that his daughter should be provided with a home and 
he promised that if they would leave all arrangements to 
him, it should be accomplished with perfect secrecy, and 
without delay. 

A very few weeks after his daughter's marriage the exile 
died, and Assunta was not left desolate. 

A whole year elapsed, and still Ewan had not told his 
mother, and Assunta was so happy with the husband she 



D1TA. 15 

loved, that she cared nothing for the life of perfect seclu- 
sion she led, and asked for no more. In the pride of his 
youth and strength, Ewan was cut down, and Assunta 
found herself left, at nineteen years old, a widow and 
alone. 

It was with an anxious and sad heart that Master Mal- 
colm begged Assunta to tell him what she could about her 
marriage. 

"It is all-important, my child," he said; "more im- 
portant than perhaps you think it affects so many." 

" Not so much as it would have done if baby had been 
a boy," said Assunta, leaning her head wearily on her 
hand. 

"Boy! he is not a boy!" cried Master Malcolm, in the 
greatest astonishment. 

"No; she is a little lassie," said Assunta, sadly. 

"Alas! alas!" he cried, "all the lands of Dunmonaigh 
to go to a girl; oh! why was she not a boy?" 

"It is best so," said Assunta, " for now it will only be 
to give her money, and Angus Macmonach will still be the 
laird." 

Master Malcolm shook his head sorrowfully. " Not 
so," he said; "all, everything goes to the heir, be he male 
or female." 

"I did not know," faltered Assunta. 

She gave into the hands of the Minister a desk in which 
Ewan had been wont to keep a few treasures, which she 
had sent for from Strathluan. 

"Here, Padre Master Malcolm I mean in here you 
will find my proofs." 

The Minister turned the rusty little key in its lock, and 
opened the desk. The contents were motley enough. 
Two gorgeous salmon-flies, a roll of wire, all unraveled and 
twisted about everything else. There was a packet marked 
in Ewan's school-boy hand, "Letters from Assunta." 
There was a child's india-rubber ring; and quite in the 
back, a roll of papers done up tightly and fusr.enc'd round 
with a green ribbon, the knot of which was carefully 
sealed. A bunch of labels were fastened tothesea.l. The 
Minister took them and read them one by one. 

"Attested copy of marriage certificate, taken from half- 
burnt register, after the burning of St. Agnes's." The 



16 DITA. 

next " Baptismal cert iflcate of Margaret Griselda. " Both 
were dated. The third simply " My will." 

" What does this mean? ? '*said the Minister. " In what 
church were you married?" 

"In the Roman Catholic chapel at Strathochie, which 
was burnt down last year." 

"And the registers were destroyed. Is the clergyman 
who married you to be found?" 

"Alas, no!" answered Assunta, the tears streaming 
from her eyes; " he died about a month after the baptism 
of the child. He was a dear friend to me." 

" Who were witnesses of the ceremony, my poor child?" 

"My father." 

"Dead also," muttered the Minister; "and who else?" 

"The sacristan of St. Agnes's he has left Strathochie 
now." 

The Minister looked very grave. "What would you 
have me to do?" he said; " shall I open these papers and 
make an examination of them? I will act according to 
your wishes." 

"No," answered Assunta. "When Ewan put them 
there, he said they were meant for his mother's hands. I 
would rather that no one but Lady Grisel should break 
the seal. Do you believe my story, Master Malcolm?" she 
cried, suddenly. " You do believe me? Will you hc'p 
me?" 

" I do I believe it all. The young laird was very dear 
to me," he said, passing his hand across*hiseyes; " I never 
knew him deceive man, woman or child the only gift he 
inherited from my Lady Grisel; but, alas! this lias been 
a mad concealment. Do not fear, I believe yon, my child;" 
and he laid his hand on the young widow's shoulders, and 
therewith heaved a deep sigh. Was not Presbyterian 
nature woful at this Papist alliance? 
t Assunta cared not for the sigh; she impulsively kissed 
the hand of the Minister, who withdrew it hastily. 

"We must give these papers to Lady Grisel," he said. 
" You shall accompany me to Dnnmonaigh to-morrow, 
that she may open them in our presence with all for- 
mality." 

"To-morrow! so soon!" cried Assunta, shrinking. 

" It should be done at once; meantime, for safety, they 
had best be left in my drawer; that is but a feeble guard 



Bit A. 1? 

for so precious a packet," he said, looking at poor As- 
sun tu's little leather desk. 

"It will be safer there," she answered, looking at the 
strong wooden table; and she returned up-slairs to her 
little child, her one comfort and help in this dark hour of 
her life. 

The Minister sat by his table, with his head leaning on 
his hand, wrapped in melancholy thought-. The drawer 
was open, and as his eyes fell on the packet, he sighed 
more heavily than ever. "It will be a terrible blow to 
Lady Grisel," he reflected. " It will almost crush her 
for t cannot doubt this story." 

He sat thus when the door opened, and Kerenhappuch 
announced "Mr. Angus, Minister," and Angus Macmon- 
ach walked in. His look was so disturbed, and his face 
BO pale, that Master Malcolm did not notice his omission 
of customary salutation. He sat down, and rushed with 
painful eagerness into the subject of his visit. 

" Well, Mr. Malcolm," he said, " this story is all a lie, 
is it not? Is the girl still here? You shall be no loser by 
your charity. We will do what we can to help her " 

" Hold," said the Minister, gravely; " this is a graver 
matter than you wot of, I believe in her story." 

Angus began to pace up and down. "Believe in it, 
Minister! a man of sense and experience like yourself to 
give credit to so transparent an imposture! you do not do 
yourself justice." 

" I have known this girl and her father for many years: 
they are no impostors, but well-born gentlefolks albeit 
Papists," he added, below his breath. 

" But Ewan " 

" Your brother never did a dishonorable action, nor told 
a lie in his life/' interrupted the Minister. 

"Pshaw!" said Angus, impatiently. "What means 
have you of knowing?" 

" But I have papers by me." 

"Papers!" cried Angus, eagerly. "They are not 
proofs?" 

" They are here," said the Minister, and he proceeded 
to read the labels aloud. 

" Give me that packet I have a right to open and ex- 
amine it." 

" Not so," said Master Malcolm, replacing the packef 



18 MIA. 

in the drawer and turning the key. " JSTo one may toucli 
them but Lady Grisel, your mother, and that in the pres- 
ence of Mistress Macmonach and myself." 

Then Angus swore a violent oath; the Minister's face 
grew pale with displeasure. 

" Angus Macmonach," he said, "no evil words will un- 
do what is done." 

Angus flung himself into a chair. 

"Would the girl hear of a compromise?" he asked. 

" You can ask her," said Master Malcolm. " But no! 
do not so insult her." 

" Yon have no pity for me," cried Angus, suddenly 
changing his tone.. "You think only of this upstart 
woman and her child, who would ruin my dearest hopes " 

" I do pity you, Angus," said the Minister, "and would 
give the best years of my life that this had never been; 
but justice must be done, though to see a Papist in your 
mother's place would go near to break my heart." 

" It must not, it shall not be!" cried Angus. "I will 
offer her money anything rather than that." 

" You must not while the matter is still uncertain; that 
were the worst course you could take." 

"Would to heaven that it were uncertain!" said Angus, 
and ere the words had left his lips, he repented of them; 
again he paced up and down. The Minister began to 
wonder where this would end. when, unwittingly of who 
was within, Assunta entered the room. 

Seeing Angus, she stood still, clasping her child, her 
large eyes fixed upon him, and in her whole manner and 
rnicn were a dignity and innate nobleness for which he 
was not prepared; but it was life or death to him, and he 
would not spare her. 

The Minister shrank back as though he were guilty; he 
could not bear to see the shaft wing its way home in that 
quivering heart. 

" Madam," said Angus, and his voice was low, each 
word dropping with a cruel distinctness "Lady Grisel 
and myself are desirous of knowing how much money will 
induce you to withdraw your claims." 

Assunta looked at him, and as the meaning of his words 
slowly entered her mind, every trace of color receded from 
cheek and lips, leaving her white as marble. Shedeigned 
no answer, but he heard the click of her small teeth to- 



DITA. 19 

gether. Angus never forgot the look she gave him; and 
she turned and left the room. 

To her dying day she spoke to no one of that scene, but 
she went dowu to the kitchen, and putting down her child, 
she took hold of Kerenhappuch's hands, 

" Huppie," she said-*-" Huppie!" and so fell into a 
violent fit of trembling and shivering, lying cold as ice, 
with chattering teeth, for hours. 

' So you will not let me see those papers?" were An- 
gus's last words as he quitted the Minister's house. 

" To-tnorrow you shall all see them, and doubts will be 
set at rest," answered Master Malcolm; and Angus went 
home yet more anxious than he came. 



CHAPTER IV. 

IN Dunmonaigh. old-fashioned laws were kept, and by 
half-past ten every inmate of the house was in bed, and 
the doors barred and chained; but on the night of the day 
after Ewan Macmonach's funeral, some one was stirring 
even at midnight. 

The night was very fine. The loch lay like a sheet of 
silver in the light of the moon; there was not a ripple on 
its surface not a cloud on the purple sky. 

Secretly and softly as a thief in the night, Angus Mac- 
monach opened the little door, descended the steps to the 
boat, and pushed off into the silent loch. Eacli little 
splash, as the oars touched the water and dashed back 
glittering showers, struck him as unnaturally loud, but 
not a light shone in the windows of the old house; black 
and silent rose the tower, the numerous turrets and bat- 
tlemented walls, and high up hung sullenly half-mast 
high the great flag. 

Swiftly flew the little boat: Angus's foot touched the 
opposite shore, ami wrapping his plaid round his breast, 
he mounted the hill. 

In the manse all likewise slept Assunta with her 
child in her arms, worn out with weeping and sorrow. 
No one h'eard stealthy movements below. The manse 
was never barred nor locked up atniglit. "There are no 
robbers here," Master Malcolm would say; "and should 
robbers come, here is nothing to rob:" so without let or 



20 DITA. 

hinderance Angus found himself alone in the Minister's 
room. 

It was bitterly cold, but he wiped the drops from his 
brow as he drew from his pocket a large bunch of keys 
and knelt down by the table. A great luminous star 
shone down on his deed, and throbbed in the cloudless 
sky: between him and the eye of God was no cloud or 
shadow to hide him. 

lie tried one key after another would none fit? yet the 
lock was a common one. Another and yet another; at 
last, with a loud crack which made Angus vibrate from 
head to foot, the lock flew back and the packet was be- 
fore his eyes. Quickly and softly he unrolled its folds by 
the light of the gleaming moon; he took out the precious 
papers; he thrust in blank sheets instead; retied the 
green ribbon and labels. Angus must strike a light: 
how loud the match sounded! it thrilled him through and 
through. All had been thought of the red wax was 
pressed down, and he bent over and sealed it anew with 
his brother's ring. 

The baby moved restlessly in her sleep, and Assunta 
pressed her closer, half opening her weary eyes. 

"Hush, hush, darling! sweet little one, sleep! God 
watches over the fatherless and widow." 

Swiftly the little boat crossed the loch again, and there 
was no movement or light in the windows of Dunmon- 
aigh. 



CHAPTER V. 

ASSUXTA rose on the following day with the heavy 
weight on her heart of one about to go through a painful 
ordeal. She could scarcely touch the food Kerenhappuch 
placed before her; and as the time for their going to 
Dunmonaigh approached, she grew hourly paler and paler. 

Early in the morning Master Malcolm had sent over a 

messenger to Lady Grisel asking her at what hour it 

would suit her to receive them, and the answer came that 

at mid-day would be best; so when the sun was rising 

'i the heavens they started together. 

Assunta had need of the good Minister's arm, for never 
had road seemed so long or so rough. An unspoken feel- 



DITA. 21 

ing made Master Malcolm choose to go by the road rather 
than by the loch. It seemed to his simple mind that, 
humble as she might be, E\van Macmonach's wife should 
enter her husband's home by its principal entrance with 
all dignity. 

Long as the way seemed at first, Assunta thought it all 
too short when they stood before the great doors. 

'' Courage, my child summon up all your courage," said 
her kind friend; and he rang the bell, which resounded 
through the house. 

In one short moment they found themselves in the 
presence of Lady Grisel and her son. 

They were sitting at the end of a long library; the 
blinds were still drawn, and the dark furniture of the 
room, witli its tiers upon tiers of old books, gave it a 
gloomy aspect. 

Lady Grisel rose from her seat when she saw them, and 
saluted them gravely. She was above the ordinary height, 
and moved with much dignity. Assunta's appealing eyes 
found no response in hers: she sought in them for sym- 
pathy, and could scarcely believe that she would find 
none; there was no gentleness in the beautiful, stern face 
of Ewan's mother, and the girl covered her face with her 
hands and stood silent. 

Angus did not rise when they came in, but sat leaning 
back in his chair, studiously endeavoring to appear a mere 
spectator of the scene. 

Lady Grisel desired both to be seated, and then leaning 
forward with one elbow on the table she began 

" Master Malcolm, in a matter of vital importance such 
as this is, we will lose no time in idle parley. I under- 
stand that you consider that you hold proofs of my son's 
marriage with this lady?" 

The Minister bowed. 

"This lady will not object," resumed Lady Grisel, "to 
answering what questions I may see fit to make before we 
proceed to examine her papers?" 

" No," said Assunta, putting back the dark hair from 
her brow, and raising her face; " I will answer all that 
you ask me." 

" At what church did this ceremony take place?" 

"At St. Agnes's Catholic chapel in Strathochie." 

"And who were the witnesses;"' 



22 DITA. 

'My father and the sacristan.'' 

' And they only signed the register?" 

< They only." 

'What day was this?" 

' The tenth of September last }'ear." 

Lady Grisel glanced at a little memorandum-book she 
held in her hand and slightly started: she continued 

" And after the marriage did you return to Strath- 
luan?" 

"No, we went north into the hills to Glentyre." 

Again Lady Grisel glanced at her book, and saw re- 
corded a letter from Ewan, dated from Glentyre, whither, 
he said, he had gone for the purchase of dogs. 

" Did my son make any purchases at Glentyre?" she 
asked. 

t( Yes; he bought Beaver and Raven, the two retriev- 
ers." 

"How long did you stay there?" 

" Till the thirtieth of that month; when Evvan returned, 
he said there were guests at Duumouaigh." 

Lady Grisel sat thinking. 

" How old is your child?" she said, suddenly. 

"Five months old." 

" And what is her name?" 

" Margaret Griselda." 

A momentary flash of emotion passed over Lady Grisel's 
face as she heard her own name. 

"This is vain talk after all, she said. " Give me the 
papers." 

Assunta held out the roll, labeled, and bound with its 
green ribbon. She felt very faint, as though the room 
whirled round and round. 

" No hand but yours should open it," she said. 
" Ewan trusted you, Lady Grisel, as he never could trust 
another." 

Then she sat back watching the papers that held her 
fate, with clasped hands and blanched lips. 

Angus rose suddenly and put his hand on the packet; 
he bent down, and examined it closely. 

" That is without doubt my brother's seal," he said. 
"That is quite right;" and he slipped the ring from his 
finger and placed it over the impression of the seal. 



DITA. 23 

Lady Grisel was about to open it, when one* more he 
stopped her. 

" Would it not be wiser and more just to this lady," he 
said, " that there should be independent witnesses to this 
transaction?" 

Assunta bowed her head she could scarcely speak. 
Lady Grisel seemed struck with what he said, and prayed 
Master Malcolm to ring the bell. It seemed as if the 
minutes were hours that elapsed before the butler and 
housekeeper and Lady Grisel's own woman stood to- 
gether in a line, adding to the strangeness of the scene. 

Lady Grisel's voice did not falter as she explained 
shortly 

"It is said that the laird was married, and that this 
lady is his wife. In proof of this she has put into my 
hands these papers to be examined before witnesses;" and 
she read the labels aloud. 

" So great was the silence, that all started when the 
seal cracked and gave way; and slowly Lady Grisel un- 
wound the green ribbon. One by one the labels unloosed, 
fluttered to the ground; with a loud rustle the paper un- 
rolled. One glance of her eye was enough they were 
blank paper. Still Lady Grisel turned them from side to 
side, and backward and forward. The Minister started 
up; a faint smile had come over the faces of the impartial 
spectators, and Angus gave a low, jarring laugh. Assunta 
had sat still with her head turned aside, and saw not the 
strange looks they were casting at her; but at the sound 
of the laugh she turned and rose to her feet. 

Not yet did the cruel truth force itself on her belief; 
she spoke not, but went down on her knees on the ground, 
and scanned every sheet of the paper up and down, in- 
side and out all was white and blunk. Then she sprang 
to her feet with gleaming eyes; pushing back the cluster- 
ing hair, and leaning against the wall, she stood with 
panting breath, as stands a noble young stag at bay. 

At first no one spoke, but Master Malcolm stole gently 
to her side, and, would she have allowed it, would hav 
drawn her hand through his arm. 

Angus broke silence at last. "You see, mother," he 
said, " we were wise to invite witnesses to attest these 
most binding proofs. You can go now," he said to thft 
butler and the women; but Lady Grisel bade them stay, 



24 DITA. 

and she advanced a few steps toward Assunta, hold ing out 
her hand. 

"Let all hear what I say," she said: "had I not seen 
these with my own eyes/' and she pointed to the papers, 
" I could not have believed that son of mine could have 
been so base a villain." 

" It is not so!" cried Assunta. " It is a lie! some one 
has deceived me! You his mother, who knew well what 
he was, tell me it is not true! believe the evidence of 
your own heart! Ewan never deceived me! there has 
been some treachery here! God! how shall I prove my 
husband's truth?" 

Her words came forth with panting breath, and she 
pressed her hands on her heart, to control the violence of 
its beating. 

As Lady Grisel watched her, a burning flush of shame 
came over her face shame for her son; she held out her 
hand again, and hot tears rose to her eyes. 

"What can I do for you?" she said. "Would to 
heaven I had died ere I had seen this, day!" 

Assunta seized her hand tightly in both her own, which 
were burning, and she looked into Lady GrisePsface with 
a wild, imploring look. 

" You are kind to me now," she cried. " Why have 
you changed to me? why do you look at me like that?" 
and she flung away the hand she held, and raising her 
arms, she cried 

"I swear by the God above us! by my dead husband! 
by all we hold sacred in heaven or earth, that I am Ewan 
Macmonach's wife!" 

One by one the servants had stolen sway; Angus had 
again sunk into his chair, and was looking on very white, 
hiding his quivering lips with one hand. 

The Minister laid his hand on Assunta's shoulder. 
" Come with me," he said. 

" I am coming," she answered; and kneeling down, she 
gathered together all the papers and wound the ribbons 
and labels round them. 

" These are all the justice that is for me," she said, and 
turned to the door. 

With swift steps Lady Grisel followed her and caught 
her gown. 

"Forgive," she said, faintly, 



DITA. 25 

Assunta's whole faee changed to an expression of deadly 
terror. 

"Forgive!" she cried; "you ask me to forgive! Then 
it must be true! and he has been false to me! false as hell 
itself! and I am undone!" and she turned and fled from 
the house fled along the road as if terror and anguish 
had lent her wings. 

"Oh, follow her! follow her, Master Malcolm!" cried 
Lady Grisel. " All that I can I will do for her and her 
child: you will be their friend?" 

As the Minister went out, Lady Grisel bent her head 
and wept more bitter tears than she had done over the 
burying of her first-born son. 

When Master Malcolm reached home, he found Keren- 
happnch waiting for him at the door. 

" So he's deceived the puir lass, Master Malcolm!" she 
cried; "I couldna hae believed that siccan a bonny lad 
could hae so black and fause a heart. She's daft wi' the 
news, puir body." 

The Minister shook his head sorrowfully. 

"I take it, it was a' a pretense, Minister the marriage 
and a'?" 

"Ay, Huppie, never was woman so cruelly deceived. 
What is she doing now?" 

"She sits by the fire and doesna move, and she neither 
greets nor manes; her wits are clean gane." 

" Poor soul poor soul!" and the Minister went up to 
pray. He held it best to pray first and to strive to com- 
fort by-and-by. 

But in the night, when all were asleep, Assunta took 
her child in her arms and arose; she put bread in her 
pocket, and wrapped a plaid round the child and fled. 
Down the highroad she walked, and an unnatural strength 
seemed to bear her up. 

For about ten yards the highroad hung over the loch. 
Assunta looked down into its quiet waters, so still and 
deep and she clasped her child and thought of the rest, 
of the peace, under the cold water escape for both from 
this cruel world, but the child opened her eyes and As- 
sunta moaned and went on her way. Some miles further 
on the road she would wait for the coach which would 
bear hr thence, nevtr to corn back never, never more, 



26 DITA. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE snow had fallen thick and fast, and all the ground 
round the manse lay under a white unbroken sheet. 

The manse stood at the brow of a hill, bleak and very 
cold without, but it was so warmly thatched that it was 
comfortable enough within. The path which led up to 
the door had not been swept, and the deep snow impeded 
Lady Grisel's steps as she mounted the hill. Her face 
had grown older and more careworn during the two 
months that had elapsed since Ewan's death, and her 
eyes would often look fixed and troubled. The spirits of 
the past were often with her, and their faces were mourn- 
ful, and their gestures reproachful, and she could not 
throw off the spell. As she slowly followed the path, they 
were pressing their old memories on her, and she longed 
for the healer Time to speed faster on his way for an- 
other year to have driven them further back. There was 
no sweetness in their presence to her. She had not valued 
her husband and her eldest son as all around had done; 
she had felt herself to be strong and capable, and was 
full of ambition; and she was young when she married; 
her husband was rich, very handsome, and beloved by all, 
and she looked for great things anjd found nothing. 
Horses and dogs were his delight; his business to see that 
all were happy and spoilt; his religion a simple and child- 
like faith. She had married an ideal, a creation of her 
own imagination, and the awakening made her think her- 
self deceived. Her husband loved her dearly at first; but 
though he was neither clever nor brilliant, he saw that 
she was disappointed in him, and that she looked down 
upon him, soon ceasing to love him; but, self-absorbed, 
she never guessed that he too had to fight a battle with 
himself, generously hidden from her knowledge. Not till 
the day of his death did he show the hidden bitterness: 
when she was bending over him, he turned from her with 
a movement almost like a child's; he put his arms around 
Ewan's neck and kissed him, and said, " We two have 
loved each other," and so died, holding the lad's hand in 
bis own. 



DITA. 27 

Afterward, when she would fain have begun a new 
career for herself and her sons, she found that she was not 
so rich as she had thought, so much had drifted away 
large loans to poor kinsfolk, rents forgiven and lowered, 
pensions, and bills backed for other men. Had she not 
been justified in her estimate of one so weak? Ewau had 
been just the same. 

On Angus she had placed her hopes; he was clever and 
shrewd he would some day do great things. But she 
was but a woman after all, and seeing the intense love 
that bound her husband and Ewan together, sometimes she 
felt a yearning for a little of such love, but Angus was 
too selfish, and she herself too reserved. When another 
year should have passed, the proportions of her life would 
again become true; had she been able she would have 
drunk deeply of the waters of Lethe. The Minuter \vas 
sitting in his little room when Lady Grisel came in. Ho 
placed a chair for her by the low peat-fire and helped to 
remove her fur cloak. 

'" I am still very unhappy, my old friend," she began. 

" Ah! the loss of such a son, Lady Grisel." 

She waved her hand. "That was God's will, Master 
Malcolm," she said, "and must be borne: it is about 
Assuntu that I have come to you," and the tears started 
to her eyes. "The older I grow," she said, "the more 
does the sadness of life strikes me. God knows it is a very 
sad thing. We are endowed with ambition that we may 
see its disappointment, and may taste the bitterness of its 
defeat; we are given the power of passionate love, and it 
is misplaced, or denied, or transformed into anguish by 
bereavement. The golden apples of knowledge, like the 
Dead Sea fruit, turn to ashes between our teeth; our dear- 
est friend may smile, and smile, and be a villain: we are 
struggling through a tangled and intricate web." 

"Yes, Lady Grisel; but do not forget, the workmen 
work the tapestry of life from behind, weaving a thousand 
unpatterned threads: not till the work is consummated, 
not till heaven is reached, shall we see face to face that 
every man who has labored in the gigantic loom has dene 
his part in God's glorious design." Lady Grisel looked 
thoughtful. 

" There are times when courage fails, Minister," she said. 



28 DITA. 

"We walk by faith, and not by sight," he said rery 
gently. 

She was silent for one moment, then raising herself, 
she said 

" I am anxious about that poor girl." 

"Have yon heard from her, Lady Grisel?" 

" Alas, no! it is not likely that she would write to me, 
after what she said to you in Edinburgh. You are sure 
of her address?" 

" Quite sure; when I traced her there, she promised 
always to let me know where she was." 

11 Is she still in Edinburgh?" 

" No, she has gone to London." 

"To London! alone!" exclaimed Lady Grisel. 

" She would not listen to me," he answered. " Her 
one only wish and hope was to hide herself away from all 
who had ever known or seen her." 

"Had she money, Master Malcolm?" 

" She had some, but she would not tell me how much; 
it is useless to ask her to accept it, Lady Grisel she 
will not." 

" Alas! it is all I could do for her." 

"I am thankful, dear lady, that you would be her 
friend." 

"She was most basely deceived, Minister; it seems 
even now most hard to credit it." 

"Alas!" said Master Malcolm, "who knoweth the 
wickedness of the human heart?" 

" But I thought I knew him so well I was deceived. 
And yet, strange to say, I cannot believe it, or give credit 
to the evidence of my tnvn eyes I cannot believe it." 

The Minister grasped Lady Grisel's hand, and brushed 
away a tear. 

"God knows," he said, "that had I one inch of 
ground on which to base my faith in Ewan's truth, I 
would proclaim it as a trumpet-peal to heaven." 

" You say that all trace of the chapel is gone, the priest 
dead, the sacristan emigrated, and no one knows what has 
become of the register?" 

"It is all too true." 

"And her papers were all blank; it is useless to doubt 
longer." 

" What more can I do, Lady Grisel?" 



DITA. 29 

Lady Grisel hesitated for a moment, then she put her 
hand lightly on the Minister's arm and said 

"I hardly like to propose it to yon, but you are her 
only friend." 

" Would you have me follow her to London?" said the 
Minister. 

"I would; we know how utterly friendless she is: if she 
will not accept the money, there are a thousand ways in 
which we may help her still. You could find employ- 
ment, fictitious employment from me if you will, to be 
doubly paid; but this can only be done when you are, 
there, when you see whether she be driven to great straits 
or not. Perhaps her Italian relations may be willing to 
take her home; that would be best of all." 

The Minister shook his head sadly. 

" She would rather die than let them know what has 
befallen," he said. ''1 had not thought to find such a 
passionate, determined nature in one I had supposed so 
gentle. I would follow her with all my heart: but jnst 
now, having been to Edinburgh but a month ago, I have 
much business, and, truth to say " 

The Minister hesitated, and a blush spread itself over 
his hard-featured face; he could not acknowledge, even 
to so old a friend, that to make such a journey was far 
beyond his means: not a week before, Michael, the ne'er- 
do-weel of the village, had come hack from prison, Mas- 
ter Malcolm fondly hoped, an altered man. and it had 
taken a round sum of money to start him afresh in a new 
and congenial trade; so in spite of Kerenhappuch's loud 
remonstrances and heavy sighs, the good man had had but 
little meat to his porridge of late. 

'* Truth to say," he hesitated, and patted his knees and 
rubbed back his rough gray hair. 

"Then you will not go, and seek for this poor child?" 
said Lady Grisel, and there was somewhat of condemna- 
tion in her voice. 

"It is not want of will," he began again; " but rather 
that at this moment other matters 

Lady Grisel knew well the innate pride of the man with 
whom she was dealing, and the thought of the real reason 
flashed across her suddenly, but she was careful not to 
betray herself. 

" Well, well," she said, "you must take your own way. 



30 DITA. 

The harvest has been so bad these two years, Master 
Malcolm, that I fear there is much poverty abroad." 

"Not so much," he answered, "for the winter is mild, 
and but few of the sheep have suffered." 

"There is much poverty," she insisted. "And because 
I feel it so, Minister, I will desire you to spend forty 
pounds for me not for the very poorest, but on such as 
your discretion shall judge to be most in need; nor would 
I confine my alms to the parish only, should there be any 
beyond its bounds." 

Master Malcolm put out his hand and shook Lady 
Gnsd's without a word. When she rose to go, she said, 
softly 

" When will you start, Minister?" 

" To-morrow by daybreak. I will take the Strathluan 
mail." 

Hnppie was sweeping away the snow from the little 
path up to the house when Lady Grisel came out. 

"Master Malcolm looks poorly to-day," she said kindly, 
as she passed the woman, and then iiuppie'.= complaints 
burst out. 

" He's no ill, my leddy it's no that; but he eats no more 
than yon puir druckit hen," and she pointed to a misera- 
ble draggled fowl pecking about in the snow. "IS'cver a 
morsel of meat has he touched, and I dinna ken when he 
will take till't again. He's gien awa 'ilka bawbee we had 
had to a ne'er-do-weel that will spond it a' in whisky and 
sneeshin, deil take him! and forgie me using siccan a 
word. Na, na it's no that he is ill." 

"Well, Kerenhappuch, if something should come up 
from Dunmonaigh, you will say that it was a very fine 
beef, and that I should be glad of Master Malcolm's opin- 
ion on it." 

"Ay, thank you, rry leddy." 

"And are you well yourself. Huppie?" 

" Ou ay, my leddy, I'm just in my frail ordinar." 

As Lady Grisel went on her way down the hillside, the 
kind smile on her face gave place to the look of care that 
had now become habitual to it. She met Angus on her 
way, and he turned and walked with her. His mind was 
full of new schemes and projects; he would spend his 
mornings over local maps, planning new roads and bridges, 
choosing tracts of moorland to redeem from the waste, 



D1TA. 31 

and he now begun to expound some new theory of drain- 
age. But Lady Grisel could not give her mind to these 
things now, as she would have done once; for always be- 
tween her and her rest was the haunting look of Ewan's 
blue eyes, and the thought of Assunta's despair. 

Several times, craving for sympathy, she had spoken to 
Angus about Assuntu, but he heard her with visible im- 
patience, and with a troubled look, that she attributed 
to a sensitive horror of the disgrace that had stained his 
brothers name. To-day she began once more, but he in- 
terrupted her, irritably 

" Why tell me what I have no wish to hear?" he said, 
with his cane cutting off the heads of the bracken. She 
was distressed at his manner, and looking at him tenderly, 
she said 

" Are yon not well, Angus?" 

" I am" all right," he answered, impatiently; " but I am 
harassed and worried by all I have to do." 

She said no more. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THERE was a thick fog in London when Master Mal- 
colm arrived, and it seemed to him that nothing could be 
more dreary. He put up at a little old-fashioned hotel to 
which he had been directed by a fellow- traveler, a hotel 
smelling strongly of beer and bad tobacco. 

He ate a badly-cooked meal placed on a small slate table 
in the common room, and then asked the careless, whistling 
waiter how far it was to Loam Street. The man declared 
it to be at least half an hour's drive in a cab; and when 
i by Master Malcolm if a cab would be very expen- 
sive, laugned rudely in answering, and went out to tell 
his friends the good joke. 

The cab was procured, the Minister being anxious to 
begin his work at once, though he was very weary from 
having traveled all through the night. 

It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, and the 
worst of the yellow fog was over, but the lamps were still 
lighted, and the damp trickled down all the walls and 
made the pavement shiny and greasy. 

As they were crossing one of the thoroughfares, the 



32 DITA. 

cab-horse fell, and the poor, patient Minister had to turn 
out into the mud and wet. In answer to his inquiries, lie 
found that the horse had been out all night and was quite 
worn out too much so to carry him as far as Loam. 
Street. The cabman was touched by the kindness with 
which the Minister spoke to him, and bade him wait 
where he was, and he would send him a cab, as it was 
often very difficult to find one in a London fog. 

The Minister waited a long time, and he was chilled 
and pinched with cold, but he strode vigorously up and 
down. 

There was a broad sweeping across the road at the 
corner, and in charge of it stood a little wistful street- 
sweeper with his broom tinder his arm. The Minister 
found himself watching the boy. Passengers hurried by 
so fast that no one paused to give him anything, though 
he ran backward and forward, keeping a clean, smooth 
way, and the pinched little face, prematurely old, grew 
whiter and smaller, and once it seemed to the Minister 
that it was quivering into tears. As he came up to the 
crossing, the boy only hung his head he had given up 
hope. 

" Here, my boy," said Master Malcolm, and he held out 
to him a real silver shilling. The little face brightened, 
and glowed with joy: he plied his broom vigorously, and 
poured a shrill, joyous whistle into the air. 

The cab rattled up, and the boy flew to open the door. 
The Minister smiled at him, and said softly 

"Never say die, my laddie the Lord will provide." 
Back went the 'boy to the crossing; and on other rainy 
days and heaven knows some days will be dark and 
dreary the words of that man with the sweet smile, 
would come into his mind "The Lord will provide." 

The cab rattled on, over the stones. It seemed a long 
and weary time before it stopped and the man opened the 
door. 

Master Malcolm's heart beat as he rang the bell. He 
had ro wait some time before it was answered by a very 
shabby-looking woman, who looked sharply at him as if 
to inquire his business. 

When asked whether Mrs. Carrol was there (for 
that was the name poor Assunta had assumed) the land- 
lady informed him that she was gone had not, in fact, 



DITA. 33 

stayed there more than a fortnight-. The woman invited 
Muster .Malcolm in, ami sitting down opposite to him, 
suid she .would answer anything he chose to ask, for she 
had taken a fancy to the poor young lady, and would be 
only too glad to hear of her weli'are. She had been very 
ill there, the landlady said delirious in her mind at first, 
and then -so weak that she could not ?et foot to the ground; 
and before she was well enough to do so, she had insisted 
upon going, for she had to pay the doctor's bill, and her 
lodging, and she could no longer afford such lodgings, 
" which they are very good, though I says it that 
shouldn't," said the woman. 

" She kissed me, she did," she continued, rubbing her 
eyes with the corner of her pocket-handkerchief, "and, 
thanked me for all the trouble I had been at with the 
baby on my hands. She was a dear young lady." 

" But can you tell me where she is gone?" said the 
poor Minister. 

" Yes, I think I could; but I must think. It was Bill 
as took her box in a barrow, and whether it was 8 or 
whether it was 3, I am not sure; but a respectable street it 
was, and the lodging was kept by the first cousin of Mrs. 
Smith (that's our baker), and she married into the up- 
noisteiing line, and took a nice house, and lets it cheaper 
than I can do, bring a widow; and she went there, I am 
sure, because I know that Bill took her box; but whether 
it is 8 or 9 I can't say." 

" And the street?" 

"Deal Street; it is a poor neighborhood, but respect- 
able." 

" Had she any means of making her own livelihood?" 
asked the Minister, anxiously. 

" She taught Miss Smith, leastways she was to have 
taught her, French and Italian, for five shillings a- week; 
but what with her going away, and what with her illness, 
that beginning were not gone on with, that I know of." 

Master Malcolm thanked the woman for her kindness, 
an,i went out again into the wet street, for the fog luuJ 
now changed into a thick, drizzling rain. 

"To Deal Street," he said; and the cabman mounted, 
wfth much grumbling, into his seat, and tucked his 
horse-cloth tighter round his knees, 
t 



34 BIT A. 

They tried Xo. 8 first, then K"o. 9; Mrs. Carrol wai 
not known at either house. 

The cabman advised trying 18 or 19, both fruitlessly; 
at last, in despair, they tried 28, and this time were so 
far successful that they found that Mrs. Carrol had been 
there. 

The Minister shivered as he saw the dirty, poverty- 
stricken look of the place. The landlady, an aggressive- 
looking woman, with her black hair twisted into curl- 
papers, led the way sharply into her private parlor, a 
small room, with a huge-patterned drab paper, ana two 
vases of wax-flowers, veiled in coarse yellow muslin. 

She began talking at once. 

" If you're the friends, sir, you ought to look after her 
bette" that's all 1 can s?y. Here she comes, that weak 
and ill, as I thought she would, have died on my hands; 
but when I asked my rent, she up and paid me a week in 
advance, which, as she had no reference, is customary, 
and " 

But the Minister cut short her endless flow of talk, ask- 
ing 

" Can you tell me her present address?" 

"Indeed and I cannot; which it's doubtful whether 
any one hereabouts can, for no one notices where them 
goes as have paid up every penny they owes, foi a real 
lady she was." 

*' Why did she leave you?" asked the Minister, his 
heart sinking very low. 

" Well," began the woman, twisting up her apron, 
" ?he was a deal of trouble, and the baby was a handful, 
just begun with its teething." 

" You sent her away?" 

" No not that exactly; but I put on sixpence for the 
child, and its fresh milk came to tenpcnce," 

"So it was want of money drove her away," said the 
Minister; " had she no means of support?" 

'She went out, day after day, after them advertise- 
ments, but nothing ever came of it, and that is how we 
come to have such a deal of trouble with the child. One 
day when she came in she found it alone, and crying, the 
perverse little viper, which it hadn't been alone ten min- 
utes; such language as she used, my word, we ain't ac- 
customed to that style of tiling, not Mary Ann and me, 



DITA. ' 35 

But as she had paid her week, \ve could do nothing till 
the time was up. After that she always dragged that 
heavy child wherever she went, and at last was brought 
home by a policeman in a cab, which she had fainted in 
the street. I don't call that respectable myself." 

The Minister could hardly speak for sorrow and indig- 
nation he shook the dust off his feet as he crossed the 
threshold of the woman's house. 

Where should he go next? how should he pursue his in- 
quiries? He had no resource but to confide to the cabman 
that he was in search of a lady who could not be found; 
and he was much astonished by the man putting his finger 
on the side of his nose, and saying, with a wink 

"Now it's all square, ain't it? you ain't a peeler in dis- 
guise?" 

" A what?" said the bewildered man. 

" You ain't a detective? for, if you are, darn'd if I'll 
help you." 

" Oh. no, no! I am a minister of the Church of Scot- 
land, and in search of a stray lamb of my flock." 

The cabman, smiling at the old-fashioned manners and 
dress of his employer, threw himself into the search. 
They went to all the petty tradesmen near, consulted cab- 
men who might have remembered carrying a lady, and her 
child and box, somewhere: but all in vain. Assunta was 
lost in this huge London wilderness. 

At last, weary and disheartened, Master Malcolm re- 
turned to his hotel. The common room was now full of 
men, ta-lking and smoking, and he made his way up to his 
own room. 

He sat thinking gloomily, when an idea suddenly flashed 
across him. Assunta had promised always to send him 
her address; that she had delayed writing from Deal Street 
might be accounted for by the fact that she remained 
there so short a time; but in all probability a letter was 
waiting for him now at his own manse, in the very north 
of Scotland, telling him where she was, perhaps that she 
had already arrived at utmost need. Master Malcolm sat 
down and wrote at once to Keren happuch desiring her to 
forward his letters, should there be any; and bitter were 
his regrets when he considered that at least six days must 
elapse before lie could hope for an answer. 

He thought that no time during the whole course of his 



36 BIT A. 

life had seemed so long as the next week, for it was seven 
days before the answer came; he had no occupation but 
wandering about the streets, or reading the papers. 

He strove hard not to lose time, and whenever lie saw 
"To Let" printed on the windows, would go in and ask 
hopelessly for Assunta; and lie would wander in the parks, 
hoping that her good angel would cause her to bring her 
child out for change of air; but he always came home 
disappointed. 

The letter arrived at last. Master Malcolm was right in 
his conjecture. She had written to him, and as he read 
her letter, his heart died within him. 

" My only friend," she wrote, "sorrow has broken down 
my pride; I am changed now. Oh send me money, for I 
I now not where to turn! Tell Lady Grisel that I accept 
her offer it is for Ewan's child. I am very ill, so ill that 
I can scarcely see to write, but they are very kind to me 

and to baby. Send me " the letter broke off abruptly, 

and the direction was written in a strange hand. 

And this was a week ago nay, more ten or eleven 
days ago. Master Malcolm seized on his hat and rushed 
down stairs, calling loudly for a cab. 

lie drove off to Whittle Court, bribing the cabman to 
drive with speed. 

It was a long ride, and the street that they drove down 
at last was narrow and dirty. Damp clothes hung out of 
the windows to dry, and dirty children were making mud- 
pies in the road. 

No. 60 turned out to be a sort of carpet-shop, where 
rugs and brushes were hung all over the outside; and the 
Minister had to pick his way through piles of chairs and 
iron bedsteads. The atmosphere was choked with dust. 

The shop-owner, a fussy little man in a black apron, di- 
rected him up stairs and to the topmost story he went, 
where he was received by a clean -looking woman, who 
at his first inquiry burst into tears. 

" So you have come after her, poor lady, and might 
have helped her." she sobbed; " and she so ill." 

" Can I see her at once?" 

" Law bless you, sir! see her? She has been gone this 
week." 

"Gone! where?' 



DITA. 37 

" Where them must go who has none to help them," 
said the woman; " why, she has gone to the workhouse." 

Assunta, the proud Assunta, come to this. Master Mal- 
colm felt stunned as he hearfl the news; he hurried down 
stairs, the woman gave him the direction, and he was 
once more on the road. 

" Poor Assunta! poor child!" he murmured to him- 
self; " what a piteous fate!" 

Now the cab rattled up to the door, and stopped, and 
Master Malcolm got out. He asked for the matron, and 
was received by her in her business room. 

She was a kind-hearted woman, and most anxious to do 
all in her power to help those under her charge. 

" Let me see," said she, rapidly wetting her thumb, 
and turning over the pages of her thick book of cases. 
" A young woman taken in on Thursday the eleventh. 
Ah! here it is. Mrs. Carrol and child, brought in by Dr. 
Monk he is our doctor, sir; put in Infirmary No. 14. 
Ah, sir!" the kind woman stopped and looked at him. 

"Can I see her?" he said, eagerly; "she has friends 
who have only just heard of her distress." 

"I a.n afraid, sir, her friends are too late." 

" Too late?" 

" No. 14 died at twelve o'clock last night." 

The Minister covered his face with his hands. "Can 
I see her?" he said, after a moment's pause. 

The matron nodded and led the way. Able-bodied 
inmates were sweeping the stairs, and she spoke sharply 
to one or t\vo as she passed. A strong smell of ironing 
from the laundry below, filled the air. She opened the 
door of a little room apart and ushered him in. 

Under a coarse white sheet lava rigid, still form. The 
matron raised its folds, and he looked for the last time on 
the calm, dead face of Assunta. 

He could not weep over the storm-tossed life, now en- 
tered into rest; but he asked leave to stay and pray, and 
the matron left him alone. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

IN E^gar Street, Solio, was a well-known book-shop 
kept by Pairdon Brothers. One of two brothers, Andrew 
Fairdon, attended to the business; the other had gone out 



38 DITA. 

to Australia many years ago, and having sent home money 
to put into the business, honest Andrew had added 
" Brothers" in large gold letters to the inscription over 
the door. Lovel Fairdon had almost faded from the re- 
membrance of his English relatives. The tsvo brothers 
in former days had been close companions and friends, 
both intelligent, both ambitious. Lovel's ambition took 
a practical, money-making turn; Andrew's was quenched 
by his falling in love, which caused him contentedly to 
take up his father's trade, and sell books in Edgar Street, 
Soho. 

The girl whom he married had a little dower of two 
hundred pounds, very profitable to the business. She 
was somewhat beneath him in position, far below him in 
education, the only child of a small tenant-farmer. She 
had lived all her life among poultry and cows, and was 
easily attracted by the clever young Londoner, who came 
down frequently for a country Sunday; and her shy, gen- 
tle manner, and the fresh sweetness of her beauty, proved 
to him an .irresistible attraction. 

The shrewder Lovel tried to talk away his brother's 
fancy, but Andrew's heart had always been better than 
his head, and he triumphantly brought home his young 
wife from the green open country to gloomy Soho. 

Nannie pined at first, as was but natural. Andrew 
was too clever for her; he was always talking of things of 
which she knew nothing always writing scraps of poetry 
that she could admire, though she could not understand. 
Sometimes he would be angry with her for her want of 
power of criticism; discriminating admiration he called 
it not blind incense. What he longed for was, that she 
should praise it line by line, not all in a lump. But as 
they grew older together, he became satisfied to talk to 
her, feeling her purring acceptance of his marvelous 
cleverness and apt quotations just the soothing balm 
needful for the irritable poetical temperament. Andrew 
was great at seeing himself in all imaginable attitudes- 
now as a deep and unfathomable man of letters, but 
oftener as a misunderstood genius. He mistook his diffi- 
culty in finding rhymes for the workings of genius, striv- 
ing in agony to embody its deep thoughts in language. 
" The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling," was often in 
his mind, and at such moments he would unbutton his 



DITA. 30 

waistcoat, which the expansion of his soul made too 
tight. 

But with all his absurdities he was a good and amiable 
man, and few couples loved each other with a more har- 
monious love than Andrew Fairdon and Nannie his wife. 

Nannie had but one real trouble in the wide world now 
that she hud outlived her transplantation into the busy 
hum of the London streets, and that trouble was, that 
the one only little child God had sent her, had remained 
but one short week in the world, and had been laid to 
rest in the green church-yard of her own home. Some 
portion of her heart had been buried with it she was wont 
to say, and it was years before the pain softened; not that 
she rebelled in spirit, but that there was something un- 
congenial in her life, something undefined even to herself 
a want of fields, and flowers, and the music of birds, 
and the healthful hard work of her youth; and this want 
for one short week was filled up by the sweetness of 
motherhood, only to leave a darker void behind. So 
Nannie's pretty face had a sad look, and very early there 
were threads of silver in her fair hair. Mrs. Fairdon's 
great delight was to do what good she could. The parish 
workhouse was not far from the shop, and she had made 
acquaintance with the busy matron, Mrs. Brown, the 
consequence was that she was often allowed to visit the 
old people and the infirmary, and her visits were hailed 
with delight meaning, as they often did, packets of tea, 
good home-made cake, and sometimes baskets of flowers. 
More than one poor friendless waif of society owed to her 
that most precious of all gifts, a fresh start on coming 
out of the house. In any out-of-the-way case Mrs. Brown 
was wont to seek sympathy and even advice from Mrs. 
Fairdon. 

It had been so when poor Assunta had been brought in 
almost dying, and reduced to such poverty that she had 
sold all the warm clothing she had possessed. 

Assunta never again raised her head from the pillow. 
The baby was a strong, healthy child, and throve well 
even on workhouse nursing and food. It u?ed to lie con- 
tentedly cooing for hours by its dying mother, at once the 
comfort and agony of her heart. That no answer came 
to her letter seemed to Assunta to mean that Lady Grisel 
had withdrawn her offer of help, that the Minister shrank 



40 DITA. 

from telling her such grievous news, that she was deserted 
by all. 

One day Mrs. Fairdon (who Tisited her every day) 
found her in such grief that, melting into tears herself, 
she implored her to make her indeed her friend and con- 
fidant; and Assunta told her all her miserable story, only 
omitting the names. As she dwelt on Ewan's goodness, 
his beauty, and his love for her, Mrs. Fairdon saw well 
the blow that the suspicion of his treachery must have 
been; but she stifled the exclamation of indignation that 
rose to her lips, fearing to add to Assunta's anguish by 
confirming- the dread, only half admitted by the unhappy 
girl, that Ewan had indeed been false. She soothed and 
petted her; then burst forth the poor mother's terror for 
her child what would become of her? she was so utterly 
friendless. 

When Mrs. Fairdon left her bedside and went home a 
dazzling vision was playing before her eyes. Would An- 
drew allow her to adopt this child as her own. Once, half 
in joke, he had told her that if she could find a baby 
without one single tie in the world, she might have it, 
and the thought had been with her ever since. 

The bookseller had not finished his work, but he was 
standing in the tiny back-yard of his house washing his 
hands at the pump, and singing merrily to himself Autol- 
ycus's song 

"Jog on, jog on, the footpath way, 

And merrily hent the stile-a; 

.A merry heart goes all the day, 

Your sad tires in a mile-a." 

When he saw Mrs. Fairdon's comely face now full of the 
keenest anxiety, he went up to her and kissed her, say- 
ing, "How now, sweet wife?" 

Shakespeare was his mood just now, and he could 
scarcely speak plain English. 

With eager haste she told him her story, holding him 
tight by one of the buttons of his coat. She had found 
the baby at last! Might she have it? As she turned her 
tender blue eyes up to his, Andrew read in them that in- 
describable longing of the childless mother, that unsatis- 
fied emptiness of heart and arms that till this moment 
he had scarcely realized, and had not noticed for years. 



DITA. 41 

"It is such a clear little thing!" she said; "a sweet 
little winsome thing with golden hair. It would be a joy 
and comfort to you, Andy, and you conld teach it your 
fine poetry, and educate it to understand as I never could 
no, not if I live to a hundred, my dear." 

The man's eyes sparkled there was something very in- 
viting about the idea of this child to bring up. 

'*' You are sure that nobody will be wanting to claim 
it?" lie said, jealously, as though it were already his own, 
" If anybody else wants it, I'll not lift a finger to take it; 
my right must be undisputed." 

" It has neither father nor kinsfolk to own it, and the 
poor young mother is dying; she is an Italian." 

"An Italian! hum!" 

" But she has lived all her life in Scotland," cried Mrs. 
Fairdon, " and speaks English as well as yourself." 

" It might be called Juliet," muttered Andrew, and his 
wife caught at the words. 

''Then I may? I can tell her that the child shall be 
ours?" 

"Yes; but, my dear" he was surprised to find his 
soft-hearted wife sobbing aloud on his breast; he went on 
kindly " my dear, I will leave all to you: we must not 
have it if it is claimed by others; make sure of this first." 

"I will I will, thank you, Andy how can I thank 
you?" 

Before half her thanks were over, she had gone back to 
tell the news to poor Assunta. 

Andrew, meanwhile, unmindful of the cold, drew a 
rush-bottomed chair from the kitchen to the yard, and 
sitting down, smiled as he lit his pipe and thought of the 
golden- haired child playing about round his knee its 
dear little voice making the old shop resound with the 
noise; and he planned a swing between two linen-posts, 
and wondered whether in the midst of his piles of books 
were any fitted for very little children. 

When Mrs. Fairdon reached the workhouse, Assunta 
was almost past speaking. The people lying in their rows 
of beds ranged against the buff-plastered Avails were all 
silent, for they knew that one soul from among them was 
passing away. 

When Mrs. Fairdon knelt down and took the dying 
girl's hand in hers, and swore to be a mother to her child, 



4S DITA. 

the look that dime over her face was of indescribable joy 
and thankfulness; she held her hand tightly in hers, and 
never took her eyes from Nannie's face, till the end came 
about twelve o'clock. 

"When Xannie came home, Andrew was quite grieved 
that she had not been able to bring the baby back with 
her; he longed to see it now that it was to be his, and was 
almost cross to his gentle wife. 



CHAPTER IX. 

VERY early on tlpe following morning, Mrs. Fairdon 
was at the workhouse as early us she could get away from 
her household cares at home. 

It was visiting day, and the friends of the patients were 
in the infirmary. The nurse, who was very busy, just 
told her that No. 14's baby had been taken to the old 
people's ward to be out of the way, and that one old 
woman had been told off to take care of it. She hurried 
away to the large ward, and found that also to be full of 
visitors. Eager as she was, she found time to stop at one 
bed with a cheeifiil " Good-morning, Mrs. Frank," know- 
ing that that poor old woman had lost every friend she 
possessed in the world, and always spent visiting days in 
softly crying to herself. 

The "good-morning" in that kind voice seemed espe- 
cially welcome to-day; and though Mrs. Frank only nodded 
awkwardly, she muttered, "God bless you, ma'am!" 

As Mrs. Fairdon hurried through the rooms, she sud- 
denly started and shivered she saw the baby, her own 
precious baby, in the arms of a stranger. 

The sky through the windows above the beds was gray 
and dim, for the day was cloudy, but one ray of brilliant 
white light shone round the rugged face of Master Mal- 
colm, as he sat on a chair between two white beds, with 
Assunta's golden-haired child in his arms. He was look- 
ing down on it tenderly, with deep compassion, and the 
baby was gazing up into his face with the solemn dignity 
of infancy. 

Mrs. Fairdon's heart died within her. Had he come to 
claim it? perhaps to take it away! What should she do? 
She went swiftly up to the Minister and held out her arms 



DITA. 43 

for the child. He rose to his feet, but showed a moment 5 ! 
reluctance to part with it. 

"Will you not give it me, sir?" she said, piteomly. 
"It is mine." 

" Yours! 1 tvas told that it was the child of a friend of 
mine who lias been called away from this world," he said, 
with a sigh. 

"Oh, may I not have it?" entreated poor Nannie, with 
tears in her eyes. "The poor mother gave it to me it is 
mine. I was with her at the last, and I swore to bring up 
the little one as my own." 

The Minister looked at her earnestly; the stamp of 
goodness was on her face unmistakably, but still he hesi- 
tated. "You take upon yourself a great responsibility," 
he said, " to bring this little lamb to her Heavenly 
Father's fold." 

"With His help, I am not afraid," said Mrs. Fairdon, 
reverently. Then the Minister laid the child in her arms, 
saying-, '-Take her, then, in Goal's name." 

Many important matters had to be settled, and several 
times Master Malcolm found himself in the back sitting- 
room of Fairdon's shop, arranging things with him. He 
could not feel justified in delivering the child wholly into 
these good people's care until he should have had time to 
communicate with Lady Grisel, whose name heforebore to 
mention; neither did the Fairdons seek to know it. The 
Minister thought that some payment ought to be made to 
help to meet the expenses of its support; but this Andrew 
absolutely declined. He was immovable; either the child 
must remain entirely in the hands of its unwilling rel- 
atives, or must be delivered over body and soul to him, to 
bear his name, and to be to him as a real daughter, her 
kindred resigning every claim. 

Master Malcolm learned from the matron and others 
how completely he might rely on the excellence and good- 
ness of the worthy couple; and it was with a lighter heart 
than he could have believed possible, that he wrote to tell 
La.ly Grisel that a home, in every way so desirable, had 
offered itself for the little orphan. 

The answer came at length: the waiting had seemed 
very long to the anxious Mrs. Fairdon. Lady Grisel was 
willing to renounce all claim, once and for ever, to the 
guardianship of the child. She thanked God that so good 



44 DITA. 

a home was found, and that now the piteous story of poor 
Assunta need never be further known; and she said that 
she never could express in words her gratitiub for all that 
the Minister had done. 

So Master Malcolm solemnly blessed the child, and 
went home again to the north, and Mrs. Fairdon took 
possession of her as her own and brought her home. 

There was quite a little fete made when the baby ar- 
rived. The bookseller and his assistant, a lad -of nineteen 
most faithfully attached to his master, decorated the house 
with holly and ivy, and composed a large "Welcome" iu 
holly-berries to nail over its new bed. Andrew was most hap- 
py and fussy over the ordering of the daily cans of new milk 
and crearn, very full of its new clothes and his plans of 
education. He insisted on going with his wife to one 
baby -shop after another, choosing hoods and pelisses, and 
when Mrs. Fairdon would fain have chosen sober gray, in- 
sisted on pale blue and satin quillings nothing was too 
good for the adopted child. 

The evening after its arrival, Andrew came out of the 
shop armed with an immense Shakespeare. He began at 
once turning over the leaves. '' Shakespeare has said, 
' What's in a name?' my dear wherein he made, to my 
humble thinking, a grave mistake. A name! why, what 
\.ere Portia if her name were Jane, or an Ophelia named 
Martha? wheie were the sorrows of a Danish Prince 
Thomas, or the despairs of a Moorish William? No, no. 
such a Portia would only have been a sentimental middle- 
class female such an Ophelia a whining milkmaid. Do 
you not see the difference, wife?" 

" Yes, 'indeed,'' answered Nannie, composedly. 

"A name," he went on, "adds to individuality aa 
much as, or more than, the expression of the face or the 
cut of the clothes. Why, nature is so strong, that a wom- 
an who has been named unsuitably, in nine cases out of 
ten has her name changed. A gentle Margaret will per- 
force be Meg, Peggie, Minnie, or other such; while a 
fierce nature will bear the name of Phoebe or Celia as ill 
as a charger the plowshare." 

" Quite true," said the admiring Nannie. 

"So, wife, it is a most important thing, the name we 
give our child; remernber.it stamps her with a certain 
character for life. We will have none of your foolish 



DITA. 45 

names; there are enough of black-haired Blanches and 
flaxen Roses already in the world: her name must be sig- 
nificant." 

*' Susan was my mother's name," said Mrs. Fairdon, 
timidly. 

" Susan, yes pretty, rural, and simple an affection- 
ate name. No, my dear, it is a good name, but it does 
not reach my idea of what is suitable." 

"She lias been baptized Margaret Griselda." 

"''The very thing," cried Andrew, fretfully. "We 
could not have thought of finer, nobler names; but for 
the very reason that they are her names, they must not be 
her names. Griselda! beautiful! I should have thought 
of that at once." 

" It seems a pity," said Mrs. Fairdon, going on with 
her work: in truth she little cared what name it would 
please her husband to give the child; to her the rose by 
any name would smell as sweet. 

" Shakespeare," went on Andrew, had a marvelous gift 
in naming. Does not Juliet bring before your mind the 
gorgeous southern beauty of the ci ild of Capulet, and 
Beatrice all wit and brilliance? I had thought of Juliet, 
but her head is all covered with rings of golden hair. 
She is very pretty, Nannie. I shall not be away long; I 
am going to look at her little face." 

Mrs. Fairdon quietly went on sewing: it was pretty to 
see the entire look of content and happiness on her sweet 
face. 

Presently Andrew stole back on tiptoe and said, " She 
moved in her sleep, Nannie, and when I put my ringer iu 
her little palm, her hand closed on it tightly. She kept 
me at least live minutes, for I was afraid of wakening her 
by taking it away. God bless her! now do not speak, 
but let me think." 

And leaning his head on his hand, Andrew Fairdon 
remained silent for perhaps a quarter of an hour, turning 
over the leaves of Shakespeare very slowly. 

Then he rose and said gently, " Perhaps if we have 
prayers first, I may think afterward of a name, Nannie." 

Mrs. Fairdon rose and folded up her WDrk, and sum- 
moned the servant-girl. Andrew read a chapter from the 
Bible, then a few short collects. When the girl was gono 
he turned to his wife smiling. 



46 DITA. 

" I have it, Nannie," he said. te A beautiful name, a 
rare name, and one, alas I too well suited to the little one." 

" What is it?'' she said, eagerly. 

" Perdita." 

" Is it not heathenish?" she asked. But Andrew gave 
no heed: he went on, "'No name of all Shakespeare's cre- 
ations brings sweeter thoughts to the mind; there is not 
one so full of grace and poetry as Perdita," and he went on 
murmuring to himself 

" When you speak, sweet, 
Td have you do it ever: wheu you sing, 
I'd have you buy and and sell so; so give alms; 
Pray so: and, for the ordering your affairs, 
To sing them too. When you do dance, I wish you 
A wave o' the sea, that you mitrht ever do 
Nothing but that; move still, still so, and own 
No other function. Each your doing, 
So singular in each particular, 
Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds, 
That all your "acts are queens." 

So it was decided that the little orphan, poor Assunta's 
golden-haired child, should be called Perdita. 



CHAPTEE X. 

RIGHT happy are those who in after-life can look back 
upon a childhood unclouded in its cairn and peace. Little 
Perdita's life was a.s sweet and happy as are the lives of 
little lambs and little birds nay, sweeter, for storms, and 
birds of prey, and many terrors, burden the lives of even 
the youngest animals; but from all little Perdita, was 
sheltered, perhaps fenced round by the wings of an angel, 
whose especial task might be to guard the orphan baby. 

It might seem as if a crowded street in London, a little 
paved courtyard, into which tlte kitchen door opened, 
were little like a Paradise; but a child requires so little, 
it has such a wondrous gift of imagination: a little pillow, 
stuffed with an extemporized face, will be as precious to 
it as the finest wax doll; a broken hobby- horse will carry 
as doughty a knight as the noblest rocking-horse; and 
chairs will make capital rail way- trains, and broom-sticks 
save drowning sailors, with a stool for a rock. 



PITA. 4? 

Perdita bad one possession that was actual, not an 
idealized treasure one for which many a rich little child, 
with beautiful toys, would have longed, this was a little 
Maltese dog, excessively small, and covered with white, 
woolly curls. The dog lived with her, ate the portion 
she gave it of her own bread and milk, and never left her. 
She washed it, and dressed it in pink and blue bows, and 
talked to it about everything she had to talk about; and 
whenever she went out with her adopted father, Fluff ac- 
companied them. The little one grew and throve wonder- 
fully. She was very fair, and her hair kept its beautiful 
golden hue; but her eyes grew darker and darker, and of 
a deep soft brown, the only features she inherited from 
her Italian mother. 

Andrew and Nannie loved the very ground she trod on 
she became the center of their thoughts and plans. He 
would have spoilt her, without doubt; but Nannie was 
wise and firm, and always did her best to counteract the 
spoiling with necessary reproof, which, however, was such 
a pain to Andrew, that Nannie would feel ruefully that 
she was punishing her husband far more than the child. 
Fluff was a great trouble when they walked in the Park. 
He would wind his long pink ribbon round the legs of the 
passers-by; he would bark fiercely at dogs that could easily 
have crunched him, bones and all, into a handful of dust; 
but Andrew minded nothing for Dita's sake. Dita was 
the name little Perdita had given herself when she first 
began to speak. That first sentence was an era in her 
history. They were sitting in the Park on a bench, Mr. 
and Mrs. Fairdon, with Perdita between them, when a 
man came by with three puppies in his arms. The child 
flew after him, and caught one in her little hands, hold- 
ing it strained tightly to her flushed cheeks, and looking 
imploringly at the owner. 

"Dita have it, dada!" 

Of course it was bought, and called Fluff, and Dita 
never lost her intense attachment to the little animal. 
Perdita's only playfellow was the young shopman, who 
devoted every spare moment to her service. He was a 
strange lad, awkward and ungainly in appearance, with 
large hands and feet, slouching gait, and wistful eyes. 
Long ago his master had called him the melancholy 
Jaqucs, and the name hud stuck to him ever since. He 



48 MTA. 

had been left fatherless some years before, and his mother, 
reduced to extreme poverty, had found it hard to give the 
boy even the commonest education; but even at ten years 
old his tasie for reading amounted to a passion. His 
father had been a village schoolmaster a feckless being, 
tormented by the boys, ridiculed and teased. He loved 
learning for learning's sake, and would speak with some 
pride of the scholastic tastes of his few relations: it ran 
in the blood, he would say; but, alas! so also did ttie 
tendency to go down in the world, to get poorer, and to 
dia young and the widow was left in great difficulties. 
The br>y struggled against every difficulty, devoured every 
book in the village library, and hungered for more; his 
mother managed to make her living by washing, and, 
wisely seeing that it was impossible to content Jaques by 
a country trade, sanctioned his going up to London, with 
a recommendation from the village schoolmaster. Jaques 
was fortunate enough to please Andrew Fairdon, and he 
entered upon his duties with an enthusiasm that won his 
master's heart. Tie was among books precious books; he 
never ceased working till he made himself acquainted with 
every shelf, and the books added to the stock were 
generally bought by him. for Andrew was clever enough 
to see that Jaques soon knew more of his trade than he 
did himself. 

Before she could walk alone, Perdita treated him as her 
slave. His holidays were spent in being her cat, her 
elephant, or her horse; and one day Mrs. Fairdon had to 
run out and stop the game Dita had invented, which was 
filling a doll's can at the pump and pouring it over his 
face. 

At one time it became impressed on Andrew's mind that 
he was made for great things, that it was his destination 
to achieve a great literary success. He had now lived for 
years in a Shakespearian atmosphere, and that made him 
determine that the first attempt should be a play, after 
the manner of Shakespeare. 

Perdita was five years old. and very pretty. She was 
Andrew's constant companion, sitting all the morning 
curled up in a corner of the shop, with Fluff or her doll, 
or trotting by his side out of doors when he was free. 

It was a time of discomfort to Nannie when her husband 
began his literary labors; he almost deserted the shop, 



rA. 40 

leaving the care of it to Jaques during the greater part of 
the clay, and sat in the parlor passing from one tremen- 
dous mood to another during the composition of the plot. 
Perdita was not alarmed she was too much accustomed 
to his ways: but now and then, if without any reason hut 
the joy of some inspiration within him, Andrew would 
leap up, strike the table, and utter a laugh of triumph, 
Fluff would rush forward in a paroxysm of shrill, excited 
barking, and then Dita laughed also, and they svould all 
kiss and go back to their corners. 

Comedy and Tragedy held the author between them as 
they held the great Garrick of old. Tragedy, perhaps, 
was the more attractive of the two more sublime; but 
there was more play of fancy in Comedy more scope for 
graceful imagery,, in which Andrew considered himself to 
excel. 

The plot was a considerable difficulty; it seemed to him 
that if he had but a plot, his pen would flow readily. His 
genius scorned advice, but was open to insinuated sug- 
gestions, and one morning he said 

"Nannie, were you to set yourself to invent a story, 
what would you say?" 

She knew what he wanted. 

"A story of a foundling child would be touching and 
sweet would it not, dear?" 

"ILi! alone in the world sans father, sans mother, 
sans sister, sans brother. A soliloquy. There must be A 
fool, and a king or a duke, and some female confidante 
two ladies, one rich the duke's daughter." 

"Jaquy," said Dita, sitting on the little three-legged 
stool in the yard "Jaquy, be a horse!" He went down, 
on his knees. 

" This child's talk may be the making of my play,' 1 
murmured Andrew, sitting at the open window biting his 
pen. 

Di!a had climbed on to her patient horse's back and 
was thumping him hard. 

" My heroine goes out a-hunting," he noted down; " is 
bold and somewhat merciless she will need a Petruohio, 
haply " 

"Now jump! jump! jump!" shouted Dita. "Jump 
high, and me tumble off!" 



60 . DITA. 

And she rolled off round his nec\ on to the ground, 
and pushing her curls off her little rosy face, she cried 

"Now me dead!" 

Andrew wrote down might and main: the very way to 
get the fair lady under the roof of the duke, was to have 
her thrown from her horse while hunting in the foresc, 
taken up for dead, and carried into the midst of the 
court. He looked up for more inspiration, but Dita was 
tired of being dead, and was running about on all fours 
with Jaques after her, shouting 

"la bunny, and you be a dog and bite me!" and Fluff 
was half mad with excitement. 

Mrs. Fairdon stood watching at the door, and she did 
not stop the game to-day, because it was Saturday, and 
Dita had on a dirty frock on purpose. 

When she went in, Andrew had laid down the paper 
with a sigh of relief 

" I have got my first act, Nan," he said. " That 
child is a genius, and has brought me inspiration. I feel 
now that my poor brain wants rest; let us take a walk 
and make Jaques go with us." 

"I knew she would be help to you," said Nannie, 
kissing Dita as she captured her. " Bless the child, 
I must change everything she has on; and for you, 
Jaques. brush yourself, aud put on a clean tie, and then 
we'll go out;" and she carried off the laughing and kick- 
ing child. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE next day Andrew tried in vain to make Dita play 
in a Suggestive manner; she would insist that her doll was 
ill, and watched it with her finger on her lips. So far 
this was good, for it suggested to Andrew a long illness 
to his heroine iu the ducal palace; and he determined to 
write his first act, and trust to the future for the rest of 
the story. 

He began his soliloquy, and to his delight found it to 
flow smoothly and easily: a sort of refrain ''Alone, 
alone; all, all alone" gave a poetic melancholy which 
charmed him. He wrote for some pages and then began 
uneasily to fear that soliloquies in " Shakespeare " did not 



DITA. 51 

generally last so long. He took down his favorite, and 
patiently counted every word in one of Hamlet's longest 
speeches, and on comparing it with the manuscript, found 
it so much longer than he expected, that he ventured to 
add yet another page to the expression of his heroine's 
thoughts. The confidante had just broken in on her 
meditations with " How, now, fair mistress?" or "Prithee, 
lady " (he had not quite decided which), when Nannie 
came running with a letter in her hand. 

''A letter for you, Andy," she said, "and there is a 
shilling to pay. It is an Australian letter, and, I fear, 
contains no good news, for it is not in your brother's writ- 
ing, and it is sealed with black." 

Andrew's face grew pale as he hurriedly took the letter. 

"Pay the man," he said, giving her the money, and she 
went. 

Presently little Dita came in from the yard, very de- 
murely carrying her sick doll; but when she saw Andrew's 
face she threw it aside, and running up to him put her 
arms round his neck, and clambered up into his lap. 

"What is it? what is it, daddy?" she cried; but to her 
surprise he put her gently down, and went up to his 
room. Dita began to cry, she knew not why, and Nannie 
came in to comfort her, but she would not let her go up 
to disturb Andrew; she feared that some very bad news 
had come, and her heart ached for her husband, for she 
knew how dearly he had loved his brother. She took 
Dita on her lap and dried her eyes, and told her stories to 
allay her own anxiety. 

At last Andrew came down, and his eyes were red as 
though he had been weeping; he came up to her and pub 
his hands on her shoulders and said 

"I iiave had some wonderful news, Nannie; this letter 
is from Level's lawyer." 

" From his lawyer?" she said, wondcringly. 

" Yes; he tells me that my poor .brother is dead." His 
voice choked, and for a moment he could not go on; 
then said, '' Oh, Nannie, I am so grieved!" 

Nannie, with tender sympathy, stroked his hand, 
whiie little Dita kissed and coaxed his leg. round which 
she had wound her arms. Then, to Nannie's surprise, he 
suddenly threw himself into a chair, and gave an odd little 
Jauh. 



52 DITA. 

" Something very wonderful has happened, wife. 
Lovel has left mo everything he possessed. He made 
liis will 'oeforo he was taken ill with fever, and 1 am his 
heir." 

"Poor Lovel! he always loved you beyond any one 
else. So he leaves no widow, which is happy for her, 
poor thing." 

"He never was married," said Andrew sharply. 

" No, love. I was onlv thinking a widow might have 
been left." 

" No; I am his sole heir his residuary legatee." 

" You will l)e able to increase the business, Andy, and 
have more help in the shop." 

"Help in the shop! increase the business! No 
more business for me; we shall be rich, and live in the 
country." 

Nannie clasped her hands in delight. 

" In the country! Dita to be brought np in the sweet 
country air, among daisies and roses and flowers; is it true, 
Andy?" 

"And cows and chickens and ducks," he added, half 
laughing, and yet with a gasp. 

" We shall live in some sweet little house with a garden, 
Andy shall it not have a garden?" 

But Andrew straightened himself in his chair, and 
pulled up his stock, and said rather pompously 

" No, my dear; in a great house with a park round 
it. We shall be very rich; we shall have a great many 
servants, and you will drive out in a carriage of your own, 
and Dita shall learn to sing, and dance, and play on the 
piano." 

" And Fluff, daddy?" 

"Fluff shall have a new collar, with silver bells." 

" Airl. Jaqnes a new violin?" 

" The best that can be found." 

"And dolly?" 

"Hush, Dita," said Nannie, rather solemnly, and 
she put her hand into her husband's; he felt that she was 
trembling. 

" It frightens me," she said; " we are not born to these 
things." 

"I will teach you, Nannie,'* said Andrew, majestic- 



DITA. 53 

ally; " I feel already as if my career were about to com- 
mence." 

"But you are so clever and I am so foolish," cried 
Nannie, sobbing. 

Andrew, kindly patting her shoulder, went on: " We 
shall have between ten and twelve thousand a-year, and 
there is a very large sum of ready money, with which my 
poor brother had intended to buy an estate in the conn try, 
and settle down as an English squire." 

Nannie raised her head, and dried her eyes. 

" It will be a great change," she said; "but how did 
poor Lovel ever make such a fortune?" 

" lie has had such good fortune as few have had," he 
answered; ''and he was very clever; he knew when to 
buy, and when to sell. The income we shall enjoy 
comes from the large estates he has bought great sheep- 
farms; and these are in very trustworthy hands, in which 
he always meant to leave them when he came home." 

" God help us to manage well!'' said Nannie, reverently. 
Andrew said "Amen;" but his thoughts were in such a 
whirl, and he was already building such castles in the 
air, that he scarcely took in the fervor of her words. 

Dita, longing to tell the news first to some one, had 
slipped off Nannie's knee, and flown into the shop to 
Jaques. 

Some one was buying a book, and she had to stand im- 
patiently waiting till the customer was gone; then she 
climbed on to the counter, and began her story. 

"Father no more shop we all going away to live with 
ducks and the daisies." 

Jaques looked bewildered, as well he might. 

"Going away, miss," he repeated. "What do you 
mean?" 

"We rich quite rich, and live with the ducks and 
daisies; and Fluff have a silver bell, and you have a new 
fiddle with paint all over it." 

Jaques shook his head, and went on folding up the 
books that he had sold in neat parcels, and directing them 
with a pen which he took from behind his ear. She was 
accustomed to his going on with his business while she 
talked, and had just begun: "You must come, too, 
Jaquy," when Andrew came into the shop, and briefly 
told Jaques what had happened: he was touched by the 



&4 D1TA. 

l.-ul's manner: Jaques's eyes filled with tears, and he 
seized his master's hand, saying earnestly 

"God bless yon. sir, wherever yon go! you have been 
a good master to me." 

A gentleman came into the shop and asked for a rare 
edition of " Dante." Andrew did not quite know where 
it was, but Jaques knew every book on the shelves, and 
produced the copy required. This was no time for senti- 
ment this busy time of year the middle of the London 
Reason. 

Nannie went about her work with her heart so full that 
now and then the large tears rolled clown her cheeks: she 
kept telling herself how glad and thankful she ought to 
feel, and what a joy this new wealth would be; but the 
responsibility seemed to outweigh the j >y, and her unfit- 
ness for such responsibility made her dread it beyond 
'measure. 

When Andrew's last customers were gone, he leant 
wearily against the -counter, while the ever-active Jaques 
\vas putting up the shutters. 

" I shall not sell another book, Jaques," he said. 

Jiiqnes's eyes opened wide. 

"Not one; those that remain will form the commence- 
ment of a library for me." 

" Oh, master, master!" cried Jaques, in an agony; 
" why did yon let that ' Dante ' go?" 

" I was a fool!" cried Andrew, striking his hand on the 
table; "but I am bewildered and tired, Jaques, and it is 
always in my head 

" ' I never heard a passion so confused, 
So strange, outrageous, and so variable, 
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets: 
My ducats O my brother O my ducats!' 

First one, then t'other, I am up and down with joy and 
grief like buckets in a well. To-morrow, Jaques, we will 
write up that the shop is closed." 

On the next day a notice to that effect was pasted all 
over the closed shutters of the shop. 

An old gentleman, or rather a man whom too much 
study had prematurely aged, was passing by the door and 
saw the notice. He knew of a treasure within that shop, 
and trusted that no one from without knew of it but him- 
self. He had his suspicions of Jaques, who knew Lh 



DITA. 55 

Value of a book, Andrew was wont to say, by its very smell. 
But Jaques had asked as high a price for this treasure (no 
less than De Bry's Virginia in English) as he dared, trust- 
ing with a trembling heart that Ins customer would find 
it beyond his means, and that he might preserve it in the 
shop. 

The scholar had entered into a daily correspondence on 
the subject, always coming in about five o'clock, looking 
lovingly at the precious volume, offering a little more or a 
little less, while Jaqnes stood respectfully by, with a beat- 
ing heart, dreading every moment he might offer the sum 
he himself had named. 

Now on this bright June morning the scholar was pass- 
ing by, and he saw the shop shut up. The perspiration 
started out upon his brow an indescribable shiver passed 
down his back and he precipitately rushed to the door. 

A smile was on Jaques'sface a fiendish grin the scholar 
termed it afterward as he told him with all courtesy that 
the coveted treasure was no longer to be sold. 

He gnashed his teeth; he offered sums of money that 
made Jaques softly go and shut the back door. 

He heard (he story with a bitter spirit that Fairdou 
had succeeded to a fortune, and was determined to keep his 
books to commence his own librarv. 

" I will give any one anything they ask in future," he 
said bitterly to himself, as he thrust his hat upon his 
head, unwitting that he had brushed it all the wrong way, 
"and never attempt to bargain again fool, fool that I 
was!" 

A friend met him and took his quivering arm, and 
heard with composure the terrible story of his wrongs. 

"Never mind, old boy!" he said, soothingly, ''keep 
your eye on him; these sort of nouveaux riches constantly 
c itne to grief, and you will get it for half the price." 

It was sorry comfort, for Andrew Fairdon never came 
to grief, and the scholar had a thorn rankling in his flesh, 
as long as he should live on earth. 



CHAPTER XII. 

"I HAVE never told you one condition of our wealth, 
Nannie," said Mr. Fairdoiv, a few days after UK arrival 
of the wonderful news " we have to change our name." 



56 DITA. 

"Indeed, Andy, it seems that our very skins will be 
changed!" said his wife. " What new-fangled name 
shall \ve have to adopt?" 

"Lovel; it is in my poor brother's will. You have 
heard me speak of Mr. Lovel who lived in Henrietta 
Street; he was of very high family, though he was 111 
trade, lie was my brother's godfather: my father had 
done him a service once, and he was very kind to him 
afterward. Somewhere about there is a mug which he 
gave Lovel at his christening Dita might have it to use. 
How shall you like to be Mrs. Lovel, wife?" 

" I do not know, It does not come natural to a woman 
of my age to be changing my name, like a new-married 
girl." 

"There is a great deal to think of, Nannie," said An- 
drew, striking his brow; "first, for your part, you must 
have some mourning." 

" I have thought; of that, and can manage very well. 
I have my black stuff as good new, and Dita can have one 
like it, made of the same; then with a couple of black 
and white prints each (I saw some pretty ones in a win- 
dow this morning) .and a black ribbon to my bonnet, we 
shall do very well." 

Andrew solemnly seated himself, and drew a long 
breath. 

"My dear," he said, "you really must endeavor to 
attune your mind to our change of circumstances. I 
foresee difficulties, but if you try to please me, you will 
overcome them in time, and acquire that elegance which 
is indispensable in the wife of one who will henceforth 
figure among the landed gentry. To begin with, you 
may give your black gown all your gowns to Betty; 
they are useless now." 

" My dear " 

"Have the goodness to listen to me. I, being a man, 
do not of course know what your dress must be, but I do 
know that yon should always wear silk and velvet or satin 
on Sundays; and you must have low gowns for dinner." 

"Never, never!" cried Nannie; "me in a low gown! 
Oh, Andy, 1 would as soon come down without any gown 
at all!" 

"But all ladies of fashion do," said Andrew, rather 
crossly. 



EITA, 5? 

"But I am r.ot a lady; do not make me ridiculous. I 
will wear silk us much as you like of an afternoon, and 
merino, or something fine and soft, to muddle about in 
of a morning; but a low gown! no." 

"Well you will displease me very much if you do n<-t 
make every effort to be iu your right place," said Anu:e\, ; 
and Nannie's eyesfilled with tears. " And," he continued, 
" there are several more things of importance to tell yoi 
one is, that henceforth 1 shall cease to call you by the fa- 
miliar Nannie, and you likewise must substitute Mr. 
Lovel or Andrew for Andy: I shall call vouAnne. or 
Mrs. Lovel." 

' I shall not know my own name," cried Nannie, pite- 
ously. 

" Yon are quite unreasonable, and will really vex me, 
Mrs. Lovel," cried her husband. 

Nannie, notwithstanding all her troubles, could not 
help smiling at the name. " What are you laughing at?'' 
he said, sharply. 

"Indeed, deary, I only smiled at my own name; but I 
will try to do all you wish," said she, humbly, coming up 
and putting her hands on his; " only you must be patient 
with me, honey, and not expect poor Nannie to become a 
grand lady all at once." 

He was restored to-good-humor, and said. " Well, my 
dear, if you will do your best, I shall have no cause to be 
ashamed of you." 

The words jarred on Nannie's ear " Ashamed of her!" 
would it really come to that? If he could admit the 
possibility of such a feeling in his mind, some mischief 
was already done. Oh, how in her heart of hearts she 
hated the possession of Level's large fortune!" 

Nannie was wise, and saw that in the matter of dress 
she would please her husband by changing at once. So 
she dressed little Perdita in a fresh white frock, and went 
with her to a good dressmaker in Bond Street. 

Mr-. Blunt was at home, and they were taken upstairs 
into a show-room full of bonnets and caps and lace to 
Di til's delight, 

Mrs- Blunt was attending to a very magnificently 

dressed lady with a pug in her arms; and nodding to Mrs. 

Fairdon, she said, ' Sit down ma'am, and I'll come." As 

.feat lady left the room, Nmjuie could, ijot help hear- 



58 DITA. 

ing the dressmaker say in a loud whisper outside tho 
door, " Mury Anne, why did you show the person in 
here?" 

Then Mrs. Blunt came back, and sitting down, said 

" Well, and what can I do for you. ma'am?' 5 

Poor Nannie's cheeks had become very red no one 
could say what it was to her, this being out of her own 
sphere; her good taste led her to be simple, and she told 
her story. 

" I have come to ask you to make me some gowns, 
ma'am," she said. " We have been simple folks, but my 
husband has inherited a large property, and wishes me to 
dress becomingly; and I should be very much obliged to 
you, ma'am, if you would advise me in what way to do 
so." 

The dressmaker was touched by the total absence of af- 
fectation, and said, warmly, "Indeed, ma'am, I shall be 
most happy, and I will do my very best for you and little 
miss." 

' Yes," said Nannie, brightening, " I should like her 
to be very well dressed mostly in white, I think, as we 
are to live in the country." 

The two women sat down together, and made out a list 
which rather startled Nannie by its length. To her great 
relief Mrs. Blunt told her that at her age she need not 
wear a low gown, and promised her a conplo of suitable 
ones for the evening, cut square and filled in with soft 
muslin; and she went away with cordial thanks. 

For the next few weeks Andrew was always coming 
and going; lie was anxious to find a place which would 
realize his idea of what, a country gentleman's seat 
should be. 

It was more difficult than he had imagined. Some were 
too small, others not grand enough; some were- too 
modern. His great wish was to have something old, feel- 
ing as if the dignity of age would shed a borrowed luster 
over himself. 

Meanwhile Nannie counted every day a respite, and one 
gained. She persuaded her husband not to bid her don 
her new clothes till they should leave Edgar Street, and 
he consented very reluctantly. She was singularly sen- 
sitive to ridicule, and would have feared to pass her cwu 
threshold into the familiar street. 



JHTA. 59 

This was a sad time for Jaqucs: lie spent all his clays 
among the books, poring over them, handling them lov- 
ingly, touching and retouching the catalogue he had made 
of them some time ago, and adding to it fresh comments 
for he was aware that his master knew far less of their 
merits than he did, and had always to resort to Brunet or 
Lowndes for the information that he carried in his own 
brain. He must leave them now must go out once more 
into the world; for nine years he had lived in that shop 
and he loved every dark corner in it. 

It had been the custom for him always to join the little 
family at supper; but of late he had asked for his portion, 
and carried it away to eat by himself. There was a One 
tact in Jaques, which only Nannie understood. 

One morning Andrew was passing through the shop OR 
his way out, when Jaques gently stopped him, saying 

" I have heard of a new place, sir, and if you could 
make it convenient I should be very glad if you would 
give me a character." 

Fairdon stopped it was on his tongue to say, " What 
do you mean? I cannot part with you;" then his newly 
acquired grandness came uppermost; a recollection of ob- 
sequious upholsterers and bowing tailors, who waited on 
his pleasure in a very different manner from the straight- 
forward address of the lad. So he siMd, grandly 

"I shall be most happy, Danby: step into Mr?. Level's 
sitting-room and bring me a pen and paper." Jaques had 
not been called Danby for nine years, but he did as he was 
told, without a word. 

Andrew drew off the gloves which he had taken to 
wearing, and laying his fine silk umbrella on the counter, 
Le began to write. He could write but slowly, for he was 
practicing a large manly hand that should look thoroughly 
unbusiness-like, and becoming to a landed proprietor. 

Having finished it, he gave it to Jaques with a smile 
that he considered bland, and left the shop. Jaques 
looked wistfully after him before he took his hat down 
from its old familiar peg, and went off with his letter. 

Andrew came home in great glee that evening. He 
had heard, from the land-agent whom he was employing, 
of a place which he thought would suit him to perfection 
a beautiful old place in one of the loveliesgfe counties of 
England. He could talk of nothing else of its large 



60 DITA. 

deer-park and beautiful trees of an old oak-paneled hall 
and library and of the neighborhood, which was sup- 
posed to l)e exceptionally good. 

They were sitting late over their supper, still talking 
over the glories of Salford Abbey, when there came a gen- 
tle knock at the door, and Jaqaes came in. 

' You are busy/' he said, and would have withdrawn, 
but Dita sprang from her seat and ran up to him. 

"Jaquy, you not go away!" she cried "come in 
come in!" and lifting Flu if off the seat he occupied, she 
pushed Jaqnes into it, and deposited the little dog ii: his 
lap. 

But Jaques saw no welcome in his master's eye, and he 
began hastily, "No, miss, dear no." The bitterness 
would not be all hid, and he continued, "I have no wel- 
come here now, but I thought I might take the liberty 
that is, I thought you would like to know, sir, that I 
have got the place, and am to go to it on Tuesday week." 

"I hope it is a good place, my lad," said Andrew, ma- 
jestically, " and as comfortable as you deserve." 

Nannie turned away her head to hide her tears. Pita 
looked very much puzzled; she again moved Fluff, and in 
spite of Jaqnes's efforts to the contrary, began to climb 
up into his lap. 

" Go away go where, Jaquy?" stroking his troubled 
face with her little hand. 

" It is you who will go away, and will leave Jaques," 
said the lad. 

"No, no, no, no," said the child; "Jaquy must come 
with me and Fluff. Daddy, Jaquy must come." 

Jaques put her down and ran away; he would not let 
them see the tears running down his cheeks. Dita would 
not be comforted she cried and sobbed till they did not 
know what to do with her. " I must have Jaquy I must 
have Jaquy and Fluff." 

Andrew fought hard against his better self to keep up 
his dignity, and to be firm and inflexible; but Dita's tears 
and entreaties prevailed, and he promised her that she 
should not be separated from Jaques. 

" I will make him my private secretary, wife, and he 
can look after the library and buy books," snid he. 

Nannie slipped out of the room, and found Jaques 
gobbing iu his little room; his delight and gratitude at 



DITA. 61 

hearing the good news were indescribable; he should not 
have to leave his beloved books, but be able to collect 
others; and, above all, he should not be parted from ins 
beloved little lady, and the kind woman who had been 
like a mother to him. 

When Nannie had comforted him, she went back to 
Dita, whom she found Bitting on the floor, hugging her 
dog. . Fluff was coiled up in her lap, unwitting that 
from his humble position he had become a landed dog. 



CHAPTEK XIII. 

AXDREW did not express the wish of his heart in 
words, which was that Nannie would leave the purchase 
of the house in his hands, without seeing it, or express- 
ing any opinion as to its desirability. He knew that she 
would do all in her power to make him adopt a humbler 
and more modest style of life, and this he was determined 
not to do. 

Nannie, however, perceived his wish, as she always did. 

" Andrew, love, never mind me in settling it all. 
Though you know what I would like best, I am quite 
ready to think it all beautiful; so just you go your own 
way, and let it be a surprise to me." 

"I think that is a wise decision," said he; "these 
things are more in my line than yours." 

"Just tell me," she said, "who the people are that 
are selling it, dear; and why, if it is such an old place, 
they don't keep it for themselves?" 

" The people are called Norton," he answered. " Sir 
John Norton has just died, and the estate becomes the 
property of his son Sir Edward, who is only a boy. Sir 
John was so deeply in debt that everything had to be sold, 
and the place was not entailed, so it went also. The 
widow and Sir Edward Norton have an income of about 
1500 a-year; they are to live in her dower house, the 
Grange, which is about five miles from the park gates." 

" What park gates, love?" 

" The lodge of Salford Abbey." 

" And what have you done about furniture?" 

"I have ordered it all to be bought as it stands; but 
Lady Norton, of course, has a great many things of her 



62 DITA. 

own, and all of these have been moved to the Grange, so 
we shall have some things to buy." 

" Well, let me know, by-ahd-by, in good time to pack 
for the flitting,," said Nannie, "and I Avill not trouble 
you with more questions." 

"The flitting indeed! I must beg. Mrs. Level, that 
you will not pack anything. The tables and chairs here 
are not fit for the scullery of Salford Abbey. Everything 
must begin brand-new. Mr. Smith has undertaken to 
engage servants for the whole establishment." 

Nannie gave a little gasp. " How many must we have?" 

" Here is the list." 

" A lady's maid! what can I do with a grand lady to 
wait on me?" 

" Why, let her wait on you, to be sure." 

"Ah, well, she can help me with making Dita's things." 

It was on the point of Andrew's tongue to say " You 
must never make anything more for JDita;" but he sup- 
pressed the words, comforting himself by thinking that 
it would look maternal and interesting; but to poor Nan- 
nie it seemed that everything tlu>t she said or did was 
wrong: how should she teach herself? She took away the 
list to think over and study. 

In the kitchen Dita and Jaques were sitting, the former 
making her slave tell her stories of the possessions she 
would soon call her own; of a pony to ride, and swans to 
feed, cows to see milked, and flowers to pick. They were 
all living in a world of unreality, and Nannie began to 
long for the crisis to be over. 

Up to the present time, about once a year, Master Mal- 
colm had written from Dunmonaigh, asking for news of 
Assunta's child, whom he always called by the ceremoni- 
ous name of Margaret Grisekla, unwitting that her adopted 
parents had changed her name; and Andrew had been very 
careful always in keeping up the illusion. The fact that 
any one should know that his little Dita had been taken 
by'him from the workhouse, was indescribably galling to 
him in his new circumstances; and when the annual 
letter arrived, he saw a way of cutting off the inquiries of 
the Minister, and causing him to lose sight of them alto- 
gether, as he carefully abstained from answering it, and 
left a commission with a neighbor to write after lie had 
quitted Edgar Street, and say that Mr. Fairdon and his 



DITA. 63 

family had left the neighborhood that they had assumed 
another name on inheriting a considerable property, and 
had left no address. The Minister was thus compelled to 
give up all intercourse with them, and it seemed as if 
every tie was cut off between Perdita and her native 
country. 

At last the great day came: little Dita was wild with 
excitement and delight, Andrew more pompous than ever, 
and poor Mrs. Lovel (for she had now fairly adopted her 
new name) quite shaky and tremulous. No one knew 
what it cost her to be dressed by the weeping Betty in that 
black silk gown which looked as if it might stand alone, 
in the black lace shawl and feathered bonnet; but the 
dress became her well, and the good taste of the dress- 
maker having come to her aid, she looked quite as she 
should do, and was free from superfluous trimmings. 

Dita was all in white, with daisies in her hat. The 
child had an innate look of noble race; and the difference 
of dress did not alter her appearance. 

It was settled that Mr. Lovel and Jaques should start 
first, and that Mrs. Lovel and Dita should follow by a 
train two hours later; thus Andrew could see that all was 
ready for their reception. He was very anxious that she 
should be pleased more anxious than, he cared to show, 
or even to allow to himself. 

Nannie was met at the London station by a footman, 
who touched his hat and told her that he had taken their 
places. She would fain have carried her own bag, but it 
was civilly taken from her, and sho followed in haste into 
the station. 

It was a comfort when she, and the child, and Fluff 
were safe in the train, and the footman had given her the 
tickets. Dita could not sit still; she went from one win- 
dow to another, and chattered, and felt certain that every 
station they passed must be the right one. 

At last the long-expected name was shouted Langford 
Junction and the footman threw open the door. A 
small private omnibus with a pretty brown horse was 
stan il ing outside. 

" From Salford?" asked the man; and on hearing the 
answer in the aftimative, handed in Mrs. Lovel, and went 
back for the luggage. The coachman did not wait: the 
little omnibus was whirled away, and poor Nannie held 



64 DITA. 

Dita's hand fast in her nervousness, infecting the sensi- 
tive child with something like her own sensations. 

Meanwhile, the footman, sorting his luggage, was ac- 
iosted by a very grand lady, who asked him, condescend- 
ingly, what was waiting to take her to Salford Abbey. 
She told him that she was the new housekeeper, and was 
expected to arrive by this train. Going out of the sta- 
tion, Eobert was astonished and dismayed by finding that 
the omnibus was gone and a brougham waiting; he saw 
the mistake he had made, perceiving that the brougham 
must have come for the lady, and the omnibus for the 
housekeeper. However, it was too late to remedy the mis- 
take, and Mrs. Poole got into the brougham and started 
on her drive. 

Andrew and Jaques were waiting at the window watch- 
ing for the travelers to come: when the omnibus came 
into view they were astonished that it should have started 
first. A footman came and told Andrew that Mrs. Poole 
had arrived, and had brought Miss Lovel with her: they 
had been shown into the housekeeper's room. 

Andrew's heart misgave him, and bidding Jaques fol- 
low, he went down stairs, and found Nannie very much 
bewildered, not knowing where she was. The servants 
who were present did not know which way to look, but 
Nannie tranquilly took Dita's hand, aud followed her hus- 
band up stairs; but she knew iu her heart that it was an 
unfortunate beginning. 

Salford Abbey retained much of its monastic character. 
It was a large, low house, built round a square court filled 
with grass, and having in the center a stone well. The 
passages round this court had been cloisters, and their 
beautiful tracery had been kept in very good order, and 
vas greatly admired. Glass windows closed the arches 
now, and glass doors opened on to the grass. The en- 
trance into the front of the house was by a low door cov- 
ered thickly with ivy: it darkened the window which gave 
light to the long, narrow, stone lobby into which it opened, 
so that the first effect on entering was one of darkness and 
gloom. This lobby ended in a low arch, before which 
hung a fine tapestry portiere, and from thence you emerged 
into what had formerly been the refectory, and was now a 
large hall the full height of the house. This hall was the 
great beauty of Salford. It was paneled with black 



DITA. 65 

and decorated with old armor and banners; over the chim- 
ney-piece was a fine trophy of arms, and the straight- 
backed oak chairs were all covered with heraldic shields. 
Andrew Lovel had indeed achieved his wish to become 
possessor of an old feudal place. On one side of the hall 
was a row of low square windows which looked into the 
cloisiers, and formerly opened into them, but were now 
filled with glass; each of these windows had a seat ot most 
inviting character. A great oak table in the center of the 
hall was covered with flowers, and fine pots of pyramidal 
azaleas stood in the corners. 

The hall was lighted by a great window in the east wall, 
filled with armorial bearings in stained glass. 

Doors from the hall led to the more modern part of the 
house to the drawing-rooms, and the dining-room 
which was paneled with oak like the hall. 

Xannie looked round and felt her heart sink, as it had 
never sunk before; in her happiest dreams she had thought 
of bright sunny rooms, clean crackling chintzes, lace anti- 
maccassars, and glittering chandeliers; but how unlike 
this was to what she had exj-c-cted! A weight seemed to 
have fallen upon her; those dreadful black walls, this 
great resounding place it oppressed her; she felt as if she 
never could be her own self there. It was better when 
the housemaid came to take her up to her own room. 
She left Dita with her husband, and followed the kmu- 
looking Ann. 

The staircase was of oak also, and very slippery, and 
Nannie had to hold fast by the banisters. Her room was 
in front of the house, looking over an expanse of green 
park with fine trees. It was very grand, she felt, but she 
found that one of the little rooms opening into it was to 
be Dita's, and this was so dainty and pretty, all white 
dimity and rosebuds, that she could think no more of the 
gloom of the four-post bed with its canopy of yellow silk. 

Ann was lingering about with a pained look on a most 
comely face, when it suddenly struck Mrs. Lovel what she 
was longing to say, but could not get out. 

She put her hand on the woman's shoulder, and said, 
"Xever mind; I do not at all wonder at your taking me 
for the housekeeper you will know me now." 

She could not help her jes filling with tears. Ann wag 
much touched. 



66 DITA. 

"Ob, ma'am, if I could only tell you how sorry I am." 
"You need not mind," said Nannie, smiling an April 
smile; "you see I have been in a bumble position in life, 
and now tbat I am no longer young enough to change in 
everything, God has seen fit to send us great wealth so I 
cannot hope to be like my husband, who is, as one may 
say, born to it; but don't fret any more, and do your duty 
by me, as I will try to do mine by you." Ann went away, 
her mistress's friend for life. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE next morning was brilliantly fine, the dew spark- 
ling in the sun, When Mrs. Lovel rose, she threw open 
her windows, and stood enchanted by the beauty of the 
sweet, fresh country. The park was very undulating, the 
road crossed it for about half a mile, and then lost itself 
in woods. Near the house stood some large tree?, at the 
entrance of a shrubbery, and under them the turf was of 
that thick velvety texture which no turf that is not very 
old will ever attain. 

Nannie went in to call Dita; the child was tired with 
her journey, and still slept very soundly, with her round 
arms clasped over her head. Nannie woke her with many 
kisses, and she sat up rubbing her eyes. 

"Oh, mammie, how pretty you look!" she cried; and 
Nannie found some pleasure in her pink dressing-gown, 
as the child admired it so much. 

When she was dressed and had flown to the window with 
a cry of delight, Nannie felt a feeling of happiness that 
she had not known for a long time. It was delightful to 
be once more in the beautiful country. 

When breakfast was over, Andrew said that the agent, 
Mr. Smith, was corning to see him; and he advised Mrs. 
Lovel to enter into a thorough examination of the house 
from head to foot. So Nannie's first day in her new home 
was a busy and pleasant one. 

She summoned the housekeeper, who accompanied her 
on her rounds; and they opened every door and every cup- 
board, examined wardrobes and chests of drawers, looked 
into the condition of the stores, and were thoroughly 
busy. 



DITA. 67 

After luncheon, which was a terrible ordeal to Mrs. 
Lovel, Andrew took them out, and they visited the beauti- 
ful old-fashioned garden, with its yew-hedges and flower- 
beds, inlaid in green turf. They would have enjoyed this 
but for the gardener, who insisted on taking them over 
the whole place, and into every greenhouse and hothouse, 
gathering a splendid nosegay for Mrs. Lovel, and present- 
ing it to her with an air as if all he surveyed was his 
own. 

The man did not look happy; in his heart he was very 
sad, for every one in the place had loved the Nortons, and 
the change was bitter. Nannie felt this instinctively, 
and shrank more into herself. 

When she was tired with her unwonted exertions, she 
went home with Andrew, and Dita and Jaques and Fluff 
continued their explorations. They went across the park, 
and looked down into the lovely little trout-stream, so 
clear and swift, and followed it into the woods, where 
the silence was only broken by a chorus of birds and in- 
sects; and the smells of the bracken and wild-flowers 
almost intoxicated the little town-bred child. 

As time passed on a trouble came on Nannie, of which 
she had never dreamt in her experience; this was that 
most devouring of troubles ennui: she had nothing to 
do. After breakfast the cook would come for orders, and 
stay for perhaps ten minutes; then she took Dita out for 
a walk; but she was unused to walking, and got easily 
tired, and by eleven o'clock was glad to leave the child 
with her maid, and go home. Her own sitting-room was 
very pretty and sunny, and furnished with pleasant books; 
but she had no habit of reading, and her eyes were not 
so good as 'they used to be, and she wearied of her books. 
Andrew had bought her a fine piece of worsted-work, but 
she felt as if it would never be finished, and hated tne 
regular pattern. She had no 'other resources. Oh for 
one morning of hearty scrubbing and washing up! She 
used to sing gayly at her work^ with an eye on Dita's 
perilous amusements in the yard all the time. Oil to see 
Andrew once more in his black apron, struggling with 
difficult rhymes! His poetical irritability then was noth- 
ing to iy?r: very different from the constant finding fault 
now, wnich only served to make her shy and awkward. 

In these days Nannie's soft hair turned very gray, and 



68 DITJL. ' . 

her voice, from its old cheery sweetness, acquired a weak- 
ness in tone, and she spoke low, as those do who often cry 
by themselves in secret. 

One of the most painful of the ordeals through which 
Mrs. Lovel had to puss was the visits of the neighboring 
families; for Andrew was so anxious that she should please 
them that it made her painfully nervous. 

One day, about six months after they had been settled 
at Salford, a large party arrived, consisting of a neighbor- 
ing landowner's wife, Mrs. Lee Aston, and her daughter, 
and a party of guests who were staying with them, who 
had wished to see Salford Abbey. 

Nannie's heart sank within her when she saw how many 
there were. They were shown into the drawing-room, 
and her nervousness was so great that she could get out 
nothing but monosyllables. 

Andrew was strolling about in the garden in a studied 
country gentleman's dress, and she received them alone. 

The Lee Astons came expecting to be amused, and 
Andrew, when he came in, satisfied their fullest expecta- 
tions. It Beemed to Nannie that they were drawing him 
out, for he had never appeared to so little advantage. He 
took them round the old rooms and the cloister, pomp- 
ously telling them the history of the place, which they 
knew far better than he did. 

One of the party was a tall grave man, who seemed as if 
he did not enter into the joking and laughter of the 
younger people: he left Andrew to go round with his 
guests, and stayed behind with Mrs. Lovel. 

"Have you met my sister-in-law yet, Mrs. Lovel?" he 
said. 

"I do not know," she answered, "for I do not know 
your name." 

He smiled. "I am Mr. Norton," he said; "Lady 
Norton is my sister-in-law, and I am the guardian to the 
boy." 

" It seems very hard that this place should have left its 
rightful owner," said Nannie. He looked at her sharply, 
and then said kindly, "I am very glad that it has fallen 
into your hands. I wanted to ask a great favor of your 
husband, and that is, to allow my nephew to fish in the 
trout-stream. He is fond of fishing, and being home from 
Eton for the holidays, it will be a great resource to him." 



DHA. , 69 

"I am sure Andr Mr. Lovel will be honored, delighted 
I mean poor young gentleman." 

" Lady Norton would cull on you, I know, but she nat- 
urally shrinks from returning here under such different 
circumstances. There are a great many of the poor people 
in whom she is much interested, and about whom it would 
be the greatest comfort to her to talk to you. I wonder if 
I might ask you to call upon her?" 

"If she would allow me if she would not think it a 
liberty I should be very glad." 

The door opened and Dita bounded in, followed by her 
little dog. On seeing the stranger she stopped, and 
assumed a demure pace. It would be difficult to imagine 
a prettier sight than this child, with her great rare dark 
eyes and the floating cloud of golden hair, which made her 
like a fairy child. 

Mr. Norton held out his hand, and she went up to him 
with a natural grace all her own. 

" Your little girl, Mrs. Lovel?" he said, inquiringly. 

"Yes, our little daughter," answered Nannie, stroking 
down the wild hair lovingly. 

Mr. Norton felt surprised that anything so refined and 
fairy-like should have been born of humble parents; but 
he s'aid no more, and the rest of the party returning, they 
took their leave. 

They were driving through the woods when Miss Lee 
Aston cried out 

"Oh, look, mamma, there is an odd figure!" 

Against a tall shadowy birch-tree stood Jaques with 
his violin in his hand waiting till the carriage should have 
passed, before he resumed the music his soul loved. 
Jaque's large hands and feet, his uncouth face, which 
looked rough-hewn and not finished off, caused an irre- 
sistible laugh. He heard, and even in his gentle soul 
arose a feeling of bitterness; but he comforted himself by 
the wildest and most fantastic maneuver on his pet violin. 

One day Dita came running into her mother's room 
with her face full of the excitement of news. 

"Mammie, there's a 'itthe boy fishing may I speak to 
him? oh, mammie, may I?" 

Mrs. Lovel looked at her flushed, eager little face, and 
seeing how much it would delight her, consented: the boy 
could be no other than Edward Norton. Jaques wag 



70 , , DITA. 

away in London transacting business for Andrew^ ind 
Dita was without playmates. Away she danced with 
Fluff at her heels, far outstripping the sober pace of her 
maid. 

The boy sitting on the edge of the stream in the wood 
looked up at her with a furious frown as she danced up to 
him; she was so taken aback that her poor little face fell 
piteonsly: he saw it, for he turned round and said - 

"Never mind, you've frightened him away, and he 
won't come back: what do you want?" 

. But Dita was quite subdued, she only crept a little 
nearer and hung her head. 

" Well, out with it, little un." 

Dita's courage came back as fast as it was gone, and she 
sat down by him, and lot a piece of string she held in her 
hand go into the water. 

" I fish," she said. 

" You are a funny little thing," said the boy, who was 
about twelve years old, and very handsome. "What is 
your name?" 

" Dita," she said. " I caught a fish," and she drew 
out a dead leaf. 

"Would you like to see my fish?" said the boy; and 
opening his basket he showed to her wondering eyes the 
glittering silvery back of a pretty trout; but alas! the sight 
proved too exciting for the inquisitive nature of Fluff; he 
darted forward, and would have thrust his nose into the 
basket, when a sharp push from the boy thrust him back. 
Fluff was a clumsy spoilt pet; he rolled over, gave a little 
squeak, and subsided into the trout-stream. 

"Oh, Fluff!" shrieked Dita. 

" Be quiet," said the boy; "he will swim all right," 
and he stood for a moment watching; then he saw to his 
consternation that Fluff's superabundant coat was pulling 
him down, that the hair covered his bead-like eyes, and 
that he was fighting with his paws above his head instead 
of below him. He stretched out a branch, but Fluff took 
no notice. Dita stood motionless with her little hands 
clasped together in despair. There was no time to lose, 
and the boy jumped into the water, and waded after the 
poor pet, catching him up just in time to save his life. 

He carried him out, and Dita received Fluff wringing 



n 

wet as he was into her lap and covered him with kisses and 
tears. 

"You must run home," said the boy, standing dripping 
beside her; "and change your things, or you, will catch 
cold " 

"Come home too," said Dita, rising and pulling his 
hand; but the boy drew it away roughly, and said with 
bitterness 

"Not I it is your home now, not mine." 

" Shall you be here to-morrow, boy?" said Dita. 

" Yes, I will come and see whether you have caught 
cold." 

Dita held up her face to be kissed, and then trotted 
away with Fluff in her arms, meeting her terrified maid on 
her way. 

Just as they reached the door, Mr. Lovel came out and 
met them. His consternation was great on seeing the 
dripping condition of the child; her frock, everything in 
a deplorable condition, and he severely scolded the maid 
for losing sight of her charge, while Dita flew away to tell 
her story to " mammie." The little adventure bore im- 
portant fruits. Dita must no longer run wild; her edu- 
cation must begin. For one more happy unshackled 
mouth the child was free, getting into innumerable scrapes, 
and always spending a thoroughly happy part of the day 
with Edward Xorton, who initiated her into all sorts of 
enchanting amusements, taught her to climb trees and to 
wade in the water, to know the names of the trees and 
flowers, to fish for hours with a crooked pin, to build moss- 
houses, etc. The country-bred boy found the greatest 
amusement in teaching this sweet little Cockney all the 
commonest knowledge of country life. Then the holidays 
came to an end, and Edward went off to his work, and 
Dita was caught up like a wild colt from the grass to be 
tamed and broken-in to harness. A governess arrived 
a parcel of lesson-books, a piano and some globes; and one 
snug little room with windows opening into the cloister 
was turned into a schoolroom. 

The old life in Edgar Street, Soho, had completely 
passed away so completely that no one but the Lovels 
and Jaques knew that Dita was not their child. This was 
Andrew's strong wish, and Nannie was not experienced 
enough to see that it might )ad *> embarrassment in 



72 DITA. 

the future. When Dita was about twelve years old, she 
told her the outline of her parents' history, suppressing 
their names; and she was glad to have done so, as at 
that age the revelation was nothing compared to what 
it might have been in the future. It was curious to see 
the hereditary peculiarities developing themselves in 
the girl's character; the enthusiasm and strong powers of 
loving and disliking of her mother's race the chivalrous 
loyalty from her father. There was danger that she might 
become too romantic, too exalte; but her faithful Jaqnes 
proved the best educator she could have. He directed her 
enthusiasm aright; he fed her imagination with truth, at 
once encouraging and restraining it; hours together she 
spent with him reading the books he chose for her. In 
vain the conventional governess appealed to Mrs. Lovel 
against this; she would not listen. She saw that there 
was a necessary craving in Dita's existence for the great 
and chivalrous and beautiful things, and the wonderful 
tact and sympathy with which nature had endowed the 
uncouth Jaques taught this also to him: this want must 
be fed, or Dita would look round her for what she wanted, 
and in her nearest and dearest would learn and mark its 
absence. Her character developed slowly: she was gener- 
ous and unselfish, full of sweetness and high religious tone; 
and though the time came (and Jaques alone knew that it 
must come) when she awoke to the fact that the parents 
whom she loved so very dearly were not such as she was, 
never by word or gesture, never even by admitting it to 
herself, did she betray it. She loved them perhaps all the 
more that the feeling roused up a feeling of protection of 
them from the whole world. 

Dita grew and shot up; her long golden hair was woven 
into plaits, and she wore a pinafore. Each time that Ed- 
ward Norton came home from school, he saw less of her, 
and pronounced her quite spoilt, and no fun: finally he 
never saw her at all, and she passed on through the last 
stages of her schoolroom life. 

A still greater change had come over her gentle mother. 
As year passed after year it took away a little more life, 
a little more energy. She was fading, very, very slowly 
imperceptibly to all but Jaques, who through life had been 
her confidant, and who loved her dearly. He saw the refine- 
ment of ill-health stealing over her; he did not mistake the 



DITA. ?3 

transparency of her hands for the delicacy produced by the 
life of a fine lady; and that she was always lying on the 
sofa more and more, told its own tale to him. Andrew 
was either too absorbed or would not understand. Nan- 
nie was fading early while still in the prime of life: she 
was not clever, she was not strong, and the transplanting 
had wounded the tender little fibers, without which the 
life of the strongest plant grows faint. 

Jaques lived with his mother in a pretty cottage just he- 
hind the garden; they lived humbly but very happily. 
Under his care the Salford library was becoming a rare 
and valuable one, and it flattered Andrew's vanity so much 
that learned men should write to him and ask for the 
favor of seeing his books, that in this one particular he 
permitted himself extravagance, and Jaques reveled in 
the works his carte-Han die enabled him to procure. 



CHAPTER XV. 

"YES, she's a stunner!" pronounced Mr. John Lee 
Aston, commonly called Jack, the second son of the Lee 
Aston family. 

A voice of a different caliber answered him coldly, 
"Whatever Miss Lovel may be, there is no standing the 
father." 

"Money covers a multitude of sins," said Jack, laugh- 
ing; "but there is no trace of the parvenue about the 
fair Perdita she is the prettiest creature I ever saw; and 
as for manners, I have never seen her equal." 

"She was a very pretty child," answered Sir Edward 
Norton. "But I have been abroad so long that I have 
only a slight recollection of her features; and only a strong 
recollection of that ass, her father, peppering me in the 
legs when your governor asked him to shoot in your 
coverts. I suppose he has not killed any one since?" 

"He has never handled a gun since, poor old boy. I 
shall never forget his face when you tumbled down; it 
took half the nonsense out of him at a blow, and they say 
he is much improved." 

"Well, then, my misfortune has proved good fortune 
for others, for he used to carry his gun like a walking- 
stick. I insured my life before I accepted your invitation 



74 DITA. 

to stay here for this ball, as I thought you would want me 
to walk through the turnips to-morrow." 

"I wish your mother would have come." 

" She is very happy at the Grange with my uncle; and 
she drives over nearly every day to see Mrs. Lovel it is 
the most wonderful infatuation." 

" Is she not a great invalid?" 

" That is what it is: it is partly a sort of charity visit, 
though I confess my mother is devoted to her." 

"You will see the heiress to-night," said Jack. 

" What! is she coming here?" 

"Yes, it is her first ball." 

" Hum!" Sir Edward gave a sort of growl and lighted 
a cigar; Jack followed his example, saying as he did so, 
hesitatingly 

" Ahem a I suppose it would not really stand in a 
fellow's way?" 

" What?! don't understand." 

"Those sort of parents want of family and birth; it's 
a confounded nuisance when everything else is so desir- 
able." 

"Do you wish for the young lady, or her money?" said 
Norton, coldly. 

" Both," said the other. "I don't know exactly that 
I should have chosen a daughter of Andrew Lovel as a 
wife but for the money; but, by Jove! I never would 
marry money unless I cared very much for the possessor." 

" DoSDt thou marry for munny, but go8 wheer munny is," 

said Norton, blowing a cloud of blue smoke into the air. 
" Well, you are wiser than I am; the fact of a young lady 
being possessed of a large fortune makes me fight shy of 
her acquaintance. I have seen enough of that," he added, 
bitterly. 

Edward Norton was very proud, and it had reached his 
ears that people coupled his name with the .heiress's, and 
planned the return of the old place to the rightful family 
through this marriage. Even his mother had once im- 
prudently given a very slight hint to that effect, which 
had been taken with the rapid swerve of a shying 
thorough-bred. He was far from pleased at hearing that 
he was to be under the same roof with this lady for two 
or three davs. 



DITA. 75 

" This is the last visit I mean to pay," he said, decid- 
edly. "I must go to London and buckle-to. If a fellow 
has bis own way to m:ike in the world, he must not waste 
time, Jnit plod along the road to fortune." 

" 1 have the same road before me," said Jack, kicking 
a pebble out of his way. 

" But you seem inclined to take a short cut, Jack." 
"It saves a long, dry, dusty grind with one leap." 
"Well, I wish you good hick. Shall we go in? It 
must be five o'clock, and I must take off my boots before 
joining the ladies." 

Edward Norton threw away his cigar and went up 
stairs. His handsome dark face was overcast and gloomy 
as he pulled off his- boots and threw them viciously across 
the room. It was unbearable that the very first thing 
that happened on returning to his own country, should 
be the overthrow of his plans for carefully avoiding any 
intercourse with the inhabitants of his old home. He 
imagined to himself that the object of Jack Lee Aston's 
admiration must be a blooming, rosy girl, stout and fair- 
haired, with all the want of refinement to be expected 
from one of Andrew's race. It was some years since they 
had met. The later Eton holidays, and all Oxford vaca- 
tions, had been spent by Sir Edward with his uncle, Mr. 
Norton, and abroad with his mother. Lady Norton had 
encouraged him to be very much with his uncle: she 
feared lest the haughty and somewhat imperious spirit of 
her son would be marred for want of a father's authority. 
In some ways Mr. Norton was the best guardian he could 
have, but by no means in all. He was a cold man, just 
and upright, and gained his nephew's strong esteem; but 
he had almost as strong a share of the hereditary family 
pride as Sir Edward himself, and involuntarily encour- 
aged it in the boy. No one guessed how bitterly Edward 
regretted Salford. Like most imaginative people, he had 
a passionate love for home. Lady Norton, a kind-hearted 
but rather weak woman, found herself unable to cope 
with her son's faults, so she contented herself with draw- 
ing out and strengthening his merits, and consoled her- 
self with the thought that these faults were those of a 
generous-minded but untamed nature, and that rough 
contact with the world would tone them down. Her one 
injudicious hint about Dita Lovel had rankled in her 



76 DITA. 

mind; he looked upon his mother's friendship for Mrs. 
Lovel as an infatuation; and so sensitive was he on the 
subject of the Level's that he was half inclined to think 
that all were combined in a conspiracy to compel him to 
marry the heiress. A kind of stiff shyness made him 
blush as he walked down stairs, and feel furious that he 
was doing so. There was a great deal of laughing and 
chattering going on in the dravving-roon. Meta Lee 
Aston, a yomng lady no longer young, was. seated at the 
piano with all the younger members of the party round 
her, they were trying to sing a glee, "Let -the bumper 
toast go round," and enjoying the mistakes they made. 

Mrs. Lee Aston, Miss Ashbdrn, her elder sister, and 
Mrs. Arthur, the eldest son's wife, were seated round the 
tea-table. 

Sir Edward possessed himself of the "Pall Mall," and 
sank into a large arm-chair by a reading-lamp. 

Tiie singing continued. " Here's a health to all good 
lasses " in a shrill treble all out of place; and a very un- 
certain bass began something about a bumper toast. The 
accompanist took her hands off; and the unlucky man 
was heard to roar out " lads and lasses fill your glasses " 
before he could stop his ponderous voice. Being very 
young, his voice was uncertainly powerful, and burst out 
like .the notes of an irregularly blown organ. 

Then the door opened, and there was a bustle of fresh 
arrivals. Lord and Lady Armine, and Miss Grethard, 
their daughter, and behind them Mr. and Miss Lo'vel. 

There was a great coming forward and shaking of 
hands, and offers of tea, and then every one subsided into 
their place the gentlemen with their backs to the fire 
(for it was September, and the evenings chill), and the 
ladies taking off their gloves and drinking tea. 

Dita sat close to Mrs. Arthur (as she was always called), 
a pretty little comfortable woman, whose great wish was 
that every one should be happy round her, and who 
thought that her greatest contribution toward the enter- 
tainment of her mother-in-law's guests, was to take them 
up to see her four fat children in bed. She was very 
kind, and in a soft, purring voice put Dita at her ease; 
for it is formidable, even to the experienced, that arrival 
m a hot room at tea-time, when every one is at home and 
amused, and the guest comes in dazzled from the darkness 



DITA. . 7? 

outside, and finds it difficult to recognize friends in the 
glare of light and the tea seems supernaturallj hot; but 
Mrs. Arthur's soft remarks enabled her to swallow the 
bread-and-butter she was too shy J;o refuse. 

Sir Edward's eyes, in spite of himself, wandered to 
Miss Lovel; but she sat with her back to him, and he 
could only see a large sombrero hat, the shadow of which 
hid even her hair. He was not acquainted with the 
Armines, and he did not think it worth while, after the 
first civil rise from his seat on their entrance, to move 
from his comfortable chair. 

Sooner than usual, Mrs. Lee Aston rose, and said in 
her cheery voice, "As dinner is at seven to-night, I am 
sure you will like to go up and rest a little now; I have 
ordered the carriages at nine, for Lady Waldon is very 
anxious that her ball should begin early. Mary, my dear, 
if you are going up stairs, will you show Miss Lovel her 
room?" 

Perdita followed Mrs. Arthur up stairs to her com- 
fortable little room, where she found her maid already 
unpacking. 

"Do we dress before dinner, or after?" she asked. 

"Oh, as you like; a muslin or something slight for 
dinner for you young ladies, for fluffy ball-gowns get so 
crushed. I shall dress before;" and the good little woman 
trotted away. 

When the gong sounded, Andrew came for his daughter, 
as she had made him promise to do, and she followed him 
shyly down stairs. , 

Most of the guests were assembled, and Mrs. Lee Aston 
said, that as dinner was at an irregular time, they would 
wait for no one, but that they had better go in without 
ceremony. The result was a little gentle rush, and 
Perdita found herself taken in by Jack Lee Aston. There 
was a vacant seat on the other sidp, for one of the un- 
punctual guests, and this remained empty till the soup 
was nearly over, when Sir Edward Norton came in; he 
looked hastily round the table there was no escape, and 
he sat down by her, and unfolded his napkin. 

"Please go on," said Dita to her right-hand neighbor, 
who was telling her the names of all the party. 

" How far did I get? the lady in pink silk you know, 
my sister-in-law." 



78 DITA. 

''Yes, and then Mr. Greville with the bass voice, and 
then Miss Grethard I know them, of course; and then?" 

"Those two men are Captain Johnstone and Colonel 
Palmer; then, of course, my mother, Lord Armine, Major 
Steele, a brother officer of Arthur's, and then my aunt, 
Miss Ashburn." 

" And next to me?" whispered Dita. 

"Norton., I think you are not acquainted with Miss 
Lovel? Sir Edward Norton Miss Lovel," said Jack, 
aloud; Norton bowed very stiffly, and turning to Miss 
Ashburn, asked her if she had been out driving. 

Miss Ashburn was very deaf with one ear, and Jack 
felt himself revenged when she produced a long tube from, 
her pocket, and thrusting one end into her ear where it 
stuck of itself, she presented the mouthpiece to her neigh- 
bor. 

Jack could not suppress a little giggle, and Dita pursed 
up her mouth vigorously, not to smile. 

Sir Edward's question produced a long disconnected 
answer, and then he set himself to eating and between 
dishes to examining the menu with so very decided an 
intention not to speak, that Perdita could not but per- 
ceive it, though Jack kept her employed the whole time 
listening to him. 

Fortunately for Sir Edward, dinner was hurried over, 
and the young ladies went away to dress. The gentlemen 
amused themselves by knocking about the billiard -balls 
in the hall, and the elder ladies warmed themselves 
and drank coffee; little Mrs. Arthur stole away to the 
nursery. 

At nine o'clock, the carriages were announced, and the 
young ladies reappeared, their beauty hidden by cloaks 
and shawls. Mrs. Lee Aston wrapped up Miss Ashburn, 
first in a Shetland shawl, then io an Indian chuddar, 
and lastly in a huge fur tippet, and they started. 

Perdita's feet were dancing the whole way, and her eyes 
sparkling; no excitement in her hitherto tranquil life 
had ever equaled this going to her first ball. 



DITA. 79 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THAT first sound of music on the staircase which an- 
nounces that dancing has begun, what a thrill of excite- 
ment it produces in the heart of the young debutante! 

Dita followed Mrs. Lee Aston and her 'flock of ladies 
into the ball-room. She felt quite bewildered with the 
brilliancy of the scene, and was only aroused by Mr. 
Lovel leading her forward and introducing her proudly 
to their hostess, Lady Waldon; and she saw the face of a 
very pleasant- looking old lady smiling kindly at her and 
saying, (< I hope you like dancing, my dear; all young 
people should like dancing." 

Then she was hurried off by Jack, and whirled into 
the valse. 

Perdita excited extreme admiration; her kind hostess 
was literally besieged by gentlemen, all asking to be intro- 
duced to her, and eager for the privilege of dancing with 
her. 

"Do you never dance, Sir Edward?" said Mrs. Arthur, 
in her cooing voice. 

" Very seldom I cannot see the pleasure of skipping 
about for nothing." 

" Oh dear! but then young people must be amused." 

" It is not a rational amusement." 

" Were you always so rational? What a dreadful boy 
you must have been!" said Lady Waldon, coining up to 
them. 

Edward was forced to laugh, and the laugh dissipated 
a little of his cross humor. " Come," she went on, "I 
think too well of you not to think that you can be irra- 
tional sometimes. Why, the Spartans themselves un- 
bent " 

" Only when the period of decadence commenced," an- 
swered Sir Edward. "But I am no Spartan, perhaps 
more of a philosopher " 

" Then you must be driven from your tub! A tub at 
your age, goodness me! Let me secure you a charming 
partner to exercise your fascinations upon." 

" No, no, Lady Waldon: conquests are for Alexander" 



80 DITA. 

and he pointed to Jack, who was again daucfng with 
Dita "and philosophy for me " 

"Ah! is not that as good as saying that were you not 
Diogenes yon would be Alexander? It must need all your 
philosophy to resist the chance of dancing with anything 
so lovely." 

" I have scarcely seen Miss Lovel." said he, very coldly. 

"Oh, Diogenes, still in thy tub!" and she laughed and 
left him, determined on revenge. 

He was still standing where she had left him when La 1; 
Waldon suddenly came up to him and said 

" Sir Edward, allow me to introduce you to Miss Lovel 
she is disengaged for this dance." 

He could do nothing but ask her to dance, which he 
did in the most formal manner. To his astonishment six- 
refused. He bowed, and stepped back. At that moment 
the music began, and Major Steele came swiftly through 
the crowd, with his head in the air, as if seeking some one, 
and seeing Miss Lovel, asked her to dance, and she went 
gayly away with him. 

Edward Norton felt exceedingly mortified. She had 
refused him, and accepted the commonplace little officer 
at once. It was the Lancers, and Perdita was close to 
him in the dance. Very much displeased, he watched 
her, and in spite of himself could not help admitting that 
she was pretty. 

Edward Norton's taste was very fastidious, and it was 
gratified by the perfection of Dita's whole appearance. 
Her dress, made by the very best French dressmaker, had 
that degree of finish about it which is so rare in England; 
gloves, shoes, and fan all of one tint. Her beautiful 
wavy hair was braided in very large soft plaits; on her 
brow it rippled and curled naturally. Her complexion 
was brilliantly white, with a wild -rose tinge on the cheeks 
and lips; but the most remarkable feature was that won- 
derful pair of dark eyes like the eyes of a gazelle shaded 
by dark lashes, and full of varying expression. 

Norton's " pretty," was buc hesitatingly pronounced, 
for he was truthful even to himself, and it seemed to him, 
in spite of himself, that his eyes had never rested on any- 
thing more lovely. 

When the dance was orer he went across to where Dita 
had seated herself, and said, very sternly 



DITA. 81 

" May I have the pleasure of this valse, Miss Lovel?" 

"No, thank yon," she said, quietly. 

" Are you already engaged?" 

"No; that is, not yet." 

He stood gloomily beside her for a moment, and then 
said, " So I am the only person with whom you refuse to 
dance." 

She opened her eyes very wide, but said nothing. He 
repeated his words in the shape of a question. "Ami 
the only person with whom you refuse to dance; and if 
so, why?" 

" Because you do not really wish to dance with me," 
said Dita, with spirit. "I saw you did not, and only 
asked me because you could not help it, Indeed I do not 
care for dancing so very much that I would dance with you 
against your will," and she blushed at the length of her 
explanation. 

"But I do wish you to dance with me, very much," 
said Sir Edward, haughtily. 

" Merely the spirit of contradiction, "answered Dita, as 
haughtily. She was a spoilt child, and could not brook 
his tone of superiority. She sat while that delicious valse 
went on, tapping her foot on the floor. No one asked her 
to dance, for seeing Sir Edward by her side they imagined 
her to be engaged to him, but he did not move. 

"I am sorr tT that you should think such a thing," he 
said, slowly; ,;y face must be one very easily read." 

He did not ^jrceive that he had betrayed himself; but 
she did. 

" Yes, very easily read," she said. 

He did not like it at all. He stood by her without 
speaking, looking at the dancing, and she became more 
and more impatient. 

At that moment Jack Lee Aston came back from tak- 
ing a lady down to supper, and, springing toward Dita, he 
said " You are not dancing, and this is such a perfect 
valse. May I have the pleasure?" and they plunged into 
the maze. 

"They are well matched, "si'id Edward Norton to him- 
self; and he bit his lips and asked Mrs. Arthur whether 
she would have some supper. 

"Oh, how sorry I am that it is over!" cried Dita, as, 



82 DITA. 

inuffled in her white fur cloak, she was put into theonni- 
bus by her last partner. 

" Good night good night," and they started on their 
way home. 

" Have you enjoyed it much, my dear?" said Mrs. Lee 
Aston, kindly. 

"Oli! more than I can possibly say." 

"She is silly and frivolous," thought Sir Edward. 
" What a fuss to make about a ball!" 

All the elders, excepting Mrs. Lee Aston, had alreadv 
gone on, and the last carriage contained nothing but 
young people, and their hostess. 

"It has been a capital dance," said Meta; "the Wai- 
dons' balls are always good." 

" I don't think they ever gave so good a one before," 
said Jack; " bv Jove! it's half-past four, and awfully 
light." 

By degrees the remarks grew fewer and fewer, and at 
last ceased; most of the party dozed, and there arose a del- 
icate little ladylike snore from the corner in which Meta 
reposed. 

There were about five miles to drive, and when they 
had gone about three, they had to pass a railway bridge, 
and drive alongside of the line for about ten yards. 

Sir Edward was at the end of the omnibus, very far from 
sleepy, and looking backward, he saw the train coming; 
there were the two brilliant red lights of the night express, 
and as it drew near there arose a shrill whistle from the 
engine. Jack woke up instantly, saying in a low voice 

" These horses won't stand that." 

Dita sat up ar.d looked at the two men; the pace of the 
carriage was increasing, the horses first cantering, then 
galloping hard. 

Mrs. Lee Aston started up in terror, and clutched hold 
of her daughter and Miss Grethard. 

" Jack, Jack," she said, " why are we going so fast? tell 
Bolton I will not be driven at this pace. Can't you tell 
him?" 

"*'Hush, mother," said Jack, "don't be afraid; the 
horses have been frightened by the train they will stop 
in a moment." 

Meta began to cry, and Miss Grethard and Mrs. Lee 
Aston clasped each other; only Perdita said nothing, but 



DITA. ' 83 

sat quite still. The pace increased more and more, the 
omnibus swaying frightfully from side to side. 

Meta gave utterance to a wild scream. Dita leant sud- 
denly forward and whispered to Sir Edward 

" Would it not be better to open the windows?" 

"Yes, yon are quite right; "and he proceeded to do so 
in spite of the rush of cold air which came in. 

" There is a goodish piece of straight road up to t?ie 
home farm," said Jack between his teeth to Sir Edward; 
"but the corner is bad, if he cannot pull up there." 

The carriage rushed on more and more wildly. Some- 
tiling dark seemed to flash by them. 

"That fool James has jumped off!" exclaimed Jack. 
"He must be killed, at this pace." He leaned across 
Miss Grethard, stretched out of the window, and shouted 
out 

"Any chance of pulling up, Bolton?" There was no 
answer, for the man's whole strength was required; but a 
side view of the horses with their heads well down and the 
foam flying from their bits, told its own tale. 

Jack drew his head in, and looking at Sir Ed ward, gave 
an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Perdita saw, 
and her face grew paler still; she suddenly bent forward 
and touched Sir Edward's hands, and stooping very close 
to him, whispered 

"Sir Ed ward." 

" Yes." 

" I did not mean to be cross." 

His answer was to squeeze her little fingers very tight 
then there was a violent rocking, they were pitched from 
one side to another a terrific crash, and she knew no 
more. 

Jack Lee Aston was the first to emerge from the wreck 
of the omnibus, and being very active and slight, and 
moreover having had the good luck to be on the upper- 
most side, he was able to scramble sideways out of the 
door. With the help of the coachman, who limped very 
much, but had escaped without serious injury, he succeeded 
in freeing the horses, who remained quiet, trembling vio- 
lently. Then they proceeded to extricate the ladies one 
after the other. Dita was taken out quite insensible and 
laid on the grass, then Miss Grethard and Meta the latter 
screaming frightfully. 



84 . DITA. 

Mrs. Lee Aston was so unnerved that she entreated to 
be allowed to die quietly. Edward Norton had scrambled 
and dragged himself out, and when in the open air, to 
every one's astonishment, fainted away. Mela's screams 
gradually subsided, and she sat sobbing at the side of the 
road . 

Mrs. Lee Aston once on her feet was quite herself 
again, and she and Mabel Grethard, who waa much 
shaken and very pale, set to work to try and restore the 
two who appeared to be most severely hurt. 

The coachman mounted one of the horses, and leading 
the other, rode off for assistance. 

In about five minutes Perdita opened her eyes; it was 
a strange scene the sky was just beginning to glow with 
the first gleams of sunrise, and the grass and road were 
all brilliant with hoar-frost. They were not really far 
from home; but the park wall divided them from the 
park, and there would be nearly a mile to skirt it before 
they could arrive at the lodge. The inhabitants of the 
farm were unfortunately only women the farmer had 
gone for the night to some distant market-town, and the 
laborers had all gone home to their cottages. 

Perdita found Mabel Grethard and Jack both bending 
anxiously over her, and she tried to smile and attempt 
to sit up, but she could not help giving a cry of pain, and 
fell back again. 

" Where are you hurt, dear? can you tell me?" asked 
Mabel. 

" I am afraid my leg is broken, it feels very odd," said 
Dita. 

" Oh dear! dear! what a time they are in coming!" 
sobbed Meta. 

Mrs. Lee Aston was kneeling by Edward Norton, put- 
ting eau-de-Cologne to his brow, and chafing his hands; 
but there wis not the slightest sign of returning con- 
sciousness. 

It seemed ages before the carriage arrived with Mr. Lee 
Aston, Arthur, and poor Andrew, all in the keenest anx- 
iety. Perdita was lifted in, and the ladies followed her. 

Arthur and Jack together appropriated the largest 
blankets in the farm, and extemporized a sort of litter, 
on which they placed the inanimate form of Sir Edward 
Norton. Several men had arrived by this time from the 



DITA. 85 

house and the stables, and they started home with (heir 
burden as fast as they could go. Before they set out, the 
footman, who had jumped off, made his appearance in a 
most deplorable condition; his life bad been saved only 
by a miracle: lie had thrown himself on the top of a 
hedge, which had broken the fall: his face and hands 
were torn and scratched, his clothes almost in rags, and 
covered with blood; but there seemed to be no serious 
injury. 

Another messenger was sent off for the doctor, who ar- 
rived very quickly, but not before the principal sufferers 
had been taken up into their rooms, 

He pronounced Perdita's leg to be broken a simple 
fracture, of no very great consequence. She went through 
the setting with heroism, holding Mr. Lee Aston's hand 
the while. Over Edward Xorton he would not pronounce 
at once. The arm was very badly broken and wrenched; 
he had had one elbow out of the window when the car- 
riage upset, and the injury was a very bad one. But the 
long insensibility might mean internal injury; he could 
not say at once. He prepared to stay with him until his 
return to consciousness; but before anything else, made 
Jack swallow brandy-and-water freely. 



CHAPTER XVI I. 

BROKEN legs and arms take a long time to get well, es- 
pecially when accompanied by such a shaking as the two 
invalids had undergone. It was quite three weeks before 
they were allowed to come down stairs, and even then 
they were both kept upon sofas, and forbidden to move 
more than was absolutely necessary. 

The autumn had changed info winter cold, bright, 
and frosty and they pined to be allowed to go out, and 
grew tired of always reading. 

In the beginning of her illness, Mrs. Lovel was able to 
come for a short time to see Perdita; but after staying a 
few days, she felt obliged to return home, fora recurrence 
of the palpitation of the heart, to which she was so sub- 
ject, made her nervous lest she also should be laid up 
there. There was a change coming over Andrew now; he 
looked far older, and lost much of the self-confidence for 



86 DITA. 

which he used to be so conspicuous. The truth wa?, 
that his eyes were at last opening to the fact that Nannie 
was ill, very ill; that the doctors looked grave after seeing 
her, and gave him their opinion in unmeaning phrases. 

In the absence of Perdita they were thrown more to- 
gether than they had been for many years. One day 
Andrew even called his wife Nannie again, and the color 
flushed into her face, and the tears into her eyes, with 
joy. He came and sat down on the sofa beside her, and 
she leant her head on his shoulder. 

"You know it now, honey, do you not?" she said, 
softly. 

"Know what?" 

" That I never can be well." 

"That is nonsense, my dear," he said, hurriedly. " We 
will go to some German baths in the early summer; they 
will make you as strong as ever." 

"Maybe," said Nannie, sighing it seemed to her 
dreadful to go away from home on a long journey 
" maybe; but it seems to me that I would rather die here 
quietly than away in foreign places." 

"You are weak, nnd it makes you low," he said, 
eagerly "what Dr. Grant calls unconquerable nervous 
depression; nothing like Gorman waters for that. We'll 
have you as strong as ever, sweetheart." 

"Andrew, do you mind the little back-yard, where 
Dita used to play?" 

" Ay." 

"And the swing you made of my mother's old rocking- 
chair, and the child's beautiful hair that you loved so, 
and I would so lief have cut off? I am glad I let it grow." 

Andrew shaded his eyes with his hand: why would she 
talk of all these things now? 

"And your play, Andrew, will it ever be finished? I 
fear me, never, though it was grand enough then, when 
we were but humble. You never read Shakespeare now, 
Andrew?" 

"I have no time now," said he, in a stifled voice. 
"No," she said, thoughtfully, "no time. Riches 
bring troubles and cares and weariness more than joys." 
"Not to me," lie said. 
"You do not know it yet," she laid, softly; "not yet 



DITA. ' 87 

But we were happier then; I was a better wife then than 
I have been since." 

"Oh, Nannie, Nannie!" 

"It is a long time ago," she went on. "I remember, 
years ago, that my father went over to Alderney and 
brought me home for a dairy pet a young heifer from 
there. Oh, she was a pretty creature was Daisy! her coat 
was like satin, and her eyes for all the world like our 
Dita's; but she did not live. The food was very rich, she 
was kept like a princess, and housed against storm and 
rain; but she grew thinner and thinner, and pined away. 
She missed the old scenes she loved; the friends of her 
youth; the poor shed in which she had lived. Some could 
bear it, but she could not, nor could I." 

"Nannie, wife, you do not think of me. What should 
I do, were you to go?" 

" You will have Dita, honey, and she is a more fit com- 
panion for you than poor humble Nannie." 

" Ah! she is not of us she too will fly away. Nannie, 
wait a little time for me; let us go together." 

She stroked his cheek gently with her hand, deling the 
hot tears running down. "All in God's good time, 
honey," she said, softly. 

It was a brilliant October day, keen, fresh, and invig- 
orating, and all the Lee Aston party were out excepting 
the two invalids. 

It seemed to Sir Edward a wayward fate that he should 
thus be forced into daily companionship with the very 
young lady he had been most auxious'to avoid, but it was 
inevitable. 

On the -first day of Perdita's reappearance down stairs, 
Jack had tried his chance with her, and failed. The 
events of that unfortunate night had increased his admira- 
tion for Miss Lovel to genuine lore, and he took away with 
him on a fishing expedition in Norway a sharper pain in 
his honest heart than his friend at all suspected. 

Meanwhile the boasted philosophy of Edward Norton 
was in danger; he could not help passing hours in the 
day with Perdita; he had tried being wheeled into the 
billiard-room, but a great deal of shooting was going on, 
and the men were constantly out, and as he did not at all 
relish solitude, he returned to the drawing-room, where 
be and Perdita were placed on opposite sides of a window, 



88 EITA. 

and enjoyed many a heaity laugh over the absurdity ot 
the position, especially when a visitor was announced 
whonn neither could rise to receive for Norton was even 
less able to move than Dita, the doctors pronouncing that 
to keep his shoulder motionless was of the utmost impor- 
tance. 

On one occasion, all the party being out, each took up 
a book, and for a time only the ticking of the clock broke 
the silence. At last Sir Edward, who had furtively been 
watching Dita for some minutes, began 

" Miss Level." 

"Yes." 

"Is your hook amusing?" 

"No;" and she stifled a yawn. 

" Then do put it down and talk, I am so bored," 

" So am I, but I was too polite to say so." 

" I beg your pardon, Miss Lovel what are you read- 
ing?" 

" 'The Widow's Bequest." 

"Trash, is it not?" 

" I suppose it is; but I have read so few novels that, 
generally speaking, even trash amuses me." 

" It must be very nice to be so easily amused," said Sir 
Edward, languidly. 

"I have a piece of gossip in my pocket," said Dita, 
eagerly, "that I am sure will interest you. Mrs. Lee 
Aston had a letter from Lady Armine." 

" A marriage?" 

" Quite right; Mabel Grethard is engaged to be mar- 
ried." 

" Who is the happy man? Lucky for him that he did 
not hear the eldritch yell that she uttered in the carriage." 

"No, no, no!" cried Dita, laughing, "that was Meta; 
and I do not at all wonder at her being frightened." 

" Yes, I apologize; of course it was. Miss Grethard 
was very quiet and useful also." 

" And Meta's shriek was very pardonable." 

" But it was on terrdfirmd she shrieked Jack told me 
so," he continued. 

"Nonsense!" 

" You were insensible, Miss Lovel, so you cannot 
know." 

"So were you insensible," she said, gayly. 



DITA. * 89 

" WeH, Jack had all his wits about him, and he thought 
she had fainted; and when he went to lift her up, she 
uttered so sudden a scream that he fell backward. But 
to return to your news, who is the lucky man?" 

" His name is Macmonach Angus Macrnonach and 
he is a very rich Scotch laird, with a fine old castle called 
Dnnmonaigh, in a most beautiful part of the country." 

"Highly satisfactory: any drawbacks?" 

" He is not as young as she might have wished, Lady 
Armine says," said Dita. " I think him a very good age; 
I don't like very young people he is forty- five." 

"And she?" 

" Eighteen; it is certainly a great difference." 

" He has beeii a long time making up his mind," said 
Sir Edward. 

" You are determined not to take my piece of news 
nicely," said Dita, laughing; "but it is deeply interest- 
ing to me. Though I have seen so little of her, Mabel is 
the only girl-friend I have she is so good and merry and 
charming, and she is very pretty." 

" Keally, do you think so?" 

"Yes, I admire her lovely brown hair, and her eyes; 
and she was vory kind to me," said Dita, eagerly. 

"Is anybody ever unkind to you?" said Sir Edward, 
impulsively. 

" Oh yes. you were." 

" 1! What can you mean?" 

" Nothing," said Perdita, blushing rosy red with con- 
fusion; "I did not mean to say it." 

" I know what you mean," said he; then he suddenly 
bit his lips and stopped. 

" You must have taken a great dislike to poor little 
me," said Dita, with a very little touch of pathos in her 
voice. 

" Dislike! Miss Lovel, would to heaven that " 

Again he stopped himself. Perdita went on hurriedly 

" You once did a very kind thing for me, for which I 
feel grateful now." 

" I am so glad," he answered, recovering himself. 
"What was it?" 

" You saved my little dog from a watery grave." 

" Oh, I had quite forgotten, it; it was one of those little 



90 

beasts made of wadding, was it not? I remember how it 
kicked." 

" I think it would have broken my heart to have lost 
Fluff then," said Dita. "It was bad enough when I was 
older." 

"When did it die?" 

" About six years ago, when I was twelve years old." 

" Old enough to be more stoical." 

" I was very far fr6m being stoical; I cried more in two 
days than I ever cried in my whole life, before or since." 

"Is it stuffed?" 

" Oh, yes; Jaques had it stuffed, and it is in my bed- 
room at home." 

'' Happy Fluff to be so mourned. What a very pretty 
little girl you were at the time of Fluff's adventure!" 

"\'es, I must have been quite a little darling! I have 
seen my picture, with such a cloud of hair." 

' You were not nearly so nice afterward. I remember 
you asking me what was the principal river in Japan, and 
being quite scandalized when I did not know; and then 
your hair was done up, and you never would climb, or 
fish, or paddle, and had that straight-backed Miss Grimes 
always with you." 

''Poor Miss Grimes, who always prided herself on her 
ladylike deportment; I fear I gave her a great deal of 
trouble." 

" By- the- bye, what has become of your faithful follower, 
the big man with the red hair?" 

" Jaques? Oh, he is all right; he lives with his mother 
and looks after the books. He plays the violin divinely: 
have you ever heard him?" 

" No, never. Is he as great a curiosity as ever?" 

" Oh, no, he only looks a very quiet and rather bent 
student; and as he has grown such a large red beard, you 
would hardly know him." 

" And are you still as fond of him as you used to be?" 

"I should think so! I love him, dear old Jaques. He 
taught me far more than Miss Grimes did, and he is my 
mother's most devoted friend!" 

" I hope she is better now?" asked Sir Edward. 

" She is always much about the same," answered Dita, 
sadly. " Poor dear mother!" 

" My mother is very fond of her," said he, 



! A.. 91 

"Yes, she is the greatest comfort to poor mammie; 1 
do not know what she would do without her daily v 
and it is so very kind of her not to mind coming to Sal- 
ford Abbey." 

They were on dangerous ground, and Dita caught 
herself up quickly. She feared that she must have 
hurt his feelings, for he said nothing for some minutes, 
then 

"I suppose you will go to London this spring?" 

" No, we are going to Badfeld for the baths. Dr. Grant 
thinks that they will do my mother good." 

" What a nuisance! I mean for you." 

" Oh, no; I shall enjoy the fun of it: it w.ill be quite 
new to me." 

They went on talking till the walking-party came in 
and tea was ordered. Every one was full of Mabel Gret- 
hard's marriage. Arthur had once met Angus Macmo- 
nach when shooting in the north of Scotland, and had 
been invited to pass a night at Dunmonaigh. He said 
that Lady Armine's admiration was by no means exag- 
gerated; and described the position of the grand old house, 
with the heather-chid hills protecting it from behind, and 
the deep, clear loch in front. 

"Miss Grethard will be a strangely modern element in 
that romantic old place," he said, " with her Paris boots 
and gloves. I am glad Macmonach is to be married; it 
would have been sad for that good old family to have died 
out." 

" What sort of a man is he?" asked Mrs. Arthur. 

" He is a very queer, quiet fellow. It is a curious case 
of defeated ambition. The man is exceedingly clever, 
but he is manque." 

"How sad!'' said Mrs. Lee Aston, sealing a letter. 

" In what way do you mean?" asked Perdita. 

"It is difficult to say why. He tried elaborate farming, 
and was defeated by the impossibility of cultivation in 
that grand mountain country, that ran away with money, 
destroyed the peat that is absolutely essential for fuel, 
and frightened the game. Then he tried Parliament he 
made some able speeches in his first session. He was a 
Conservative, of course; and at the last election a loud- 
talking Radical went down to Dunmonaigh, and defeated 
him on his own ground an unheard-of catastrophe; bu> 



93 DITA. 

they say the family influence has gone rapidly down of 
late they used to carry all before them." 

" Is he unpopular?" 

"Undoubtedly. He is a very odd man, with a sort of 
irritability about him. He calls his people by the wrong 
names, and knows nothing about them or their families." 

"That never answers in Scotland," said Meta. 

" No, indeed, it tries the stanchest loyalty. His mother 
is a magnificent specimen of the feudal chatelaine" 

" Let me see who was she?" said Mrs. Arthur. 

" A Fitz-James; they have royal blood in their veins. 
She must have been very handsome, and is now one of the 
grandest-looking old ladies I ever saw, but so dignified 
that Mabel's life will be a burden to her at first." 

" Is this Angus the only son?" asked Sir Edward. 

" Yes; there was another, but he died was killed 
hunting or something, not long after his father's death." 
"Poor Lady Griselda," said Mrs. Lee Aston, kindly. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE next morning was so fine that every one went out 
except Mrs. Lee Aston and the invalids; the former had 
letters to write and retired to her sitting-room, after see- 
ing that her guests were well supplied with books. Edward 
Norton, who had passed a sleepless night, was disposed to 
be melancholy. Perdita, on the contrary, was in brilliant 
spirits. 

"I am to get upon crutches to-morrow," she said, 
gayly; "and once upon the crutches, I may as well pack 
up my goods and chattels, and relieve Mrs. Lee Aston of 
my most troublesome presence." 

*" I wish I could be tinkered up as easily as you," said 
Sir Edward, movkig uneasily. 

"But your shoulder is going on all right, is it not?" 
said Dita, anxiously. 

"I hope so oh!" he became suddenly very pale. 

"What is it? Can I help you?" 

"If I come to you, do you Miink that you could move 
my bandage? it is displaced there to the right. Oh, thank 
you; by Jove! it did hurt. As he knelt beside her, she 
gently put the bandages right. 



DITA. 92 

" Go and lie down," she said, " and keep perfectly 
quiet: you do not look well to-day." 

" Don't 1? Well, I never closed my eyes all night with 
the pain. I think Griffiths lias tied me up too tight, or 
something; it seems to get worse every day." And he lay 
back on his sofa, looking pule and exhausted. 

Presently he began again, " Do you think me a great 
muff, Miss Lovel? I am a very bad hand at bearing pain." 

" I know that some people are much more sensitive 
than others, and in consequence actually suffer more." 

" That is quite true. There was a poor fellow whom I 
knew once who actually died of pain." 

" What a terrible thing!" 

" I think very serious pain would soon put an end to 
me," he said. 

" No, that could only happen in rare cases. I think 
people must get used to suffering after a time." 

" I think people ought to be allowed to put their friends 
out of pain quietly, when it is beyond endurance." 

"It would be a very tempting power," said Dita, half 
laughing. " Supposing I had put you out of your pain 
quietly just now, what would your feelings have been?" 

" Perhaps it would have been as well," said Sir Edward, 
gloomily. 

" More comfortable for you than for me. But seri- 
ously," she said, "I always think that the natural cling- 
ing to life which we all have, in spite of pain, trouble, and 
sickness, is a special gift from God." 

"Do you think so?" said he. "I had always looked 
upon it as an additional trouble, adding to the horrors 
of death." 

" That is not my view," said Dita, gravely. " Our 
business is to live, and to live properly, and to do a certain 
amount of duty and service during our life. If the 
service were very, very hard, and we were weary and in 
pain, our longing for death would be overpowering, and 
would perhaps unfit us to bear the burden, were it not 
for that instinctive love of life with which we are en- 
dowed." 

" Is it love of life, or is it fear of the physical terrors 
of dying the shrinking of th human soul from the 
borders of the Unknown Land?" 

"I think," said Perdita, "that they are all part of 



94 DITA. 

the instinct I speak of. The holiest man I ever knew," 
ehe continued reverently, bending her head, "was the 
bishop who confirmed me. I only saw him once or twice, 
but no one could be with him without carrying away some 
good, some wish to be better. And he, this great man, 
who lived like a saint, had a great dread of death, surely 
sent to prevent him from yearning to leave the world in 
which his life was so valuable." 

" And is he dead?" asked Edward, deeply interested. 

" Yes, he is dead. He was spared the knowledge that 
he was dying: he slept on earth and awoke in heaven." 

Edward sighed. "I believe you are right," he said; 
"and to take a more practical view, it would be a selfish 
tiling to wish to die merely for your own comfort that is, 
should you leave friends to regret you." 

"How does your arm feel now?" asked Dita, changing 
the subject. 

"It hurts me so much," he answered, "that I think 
the sooner I can run up to London and have it looked 
after the better. But do not disturb yourself, Miss 
Lovel; it is much more comfortable than it was." 

" I hope it has been properly set," said Dita, anxiously. 

" I do not feel sure: when I tell Griffiths of the con- 
tinuous pain he looks surprised, and that is suspicions; 
but I have got it into an easy attitude just now." 

" I am so glad," and Perdita took up her book. 

"Oh, you are not going to read? That is too bad!" 
he cried. 

" We talk so much," said Dita, "that I consider that I 
ought to read a little sometimes." 

"Not just now," said he, imploringly. "You can 
read when the people come in." 

Dita laughed. "I am expecting a visitor this morn- 
ing." she said. 

" Who?" 

" Jaques." 

"Is his real name Jaques?" asked Sir Edward. "And 
I have often wondered how you came by your wonderful 
name! 'Were you christened by it?" 

"No," she answered, the color mounting into her 
cheeks. "My real name is Margaret Margaret Griselda; 
but my father had a great passion for Shakespeare then, 
so I was named after that flower-loving heroine." 



DITA. 95 

" And the melancholy Jaques?" 

" The same, his real name is James." 

" He is a very queer kind of fellow to be so much at 
home with all of you," said Sir Edward, curiously. 

Dita laughed. "He was my earliest and dearest play- 
fellow," she said. " And though you may think him 
ugly, I think his rough face quite beautiful. You should 
see him when he is playing the violin, or poring over some 
new and very old book it is a great triumph of expres- 
sion and feature." 

" Must I go away when your melancholy Jaques comes?" 

"Oh no, why should you? If he had his violin I 
would make him play it, but I am afraid there is no chance 
of that." 

" Who knows? If he is such an enthusiast perhaps he 
will have it fastened on his back as a troubadour has his 
guitar, or borne behind him by a beautiful page. Talk 
of the " 

"Hush," said Dita, for the servant announced "Mr. 
Danby," and Jaques walked in. 

It was still a matter of difficulty for Jaqnes to get across 
the room, especially when he saw that Perdita was not 
alone; and she was relieved when she saw him safely seated, 
facing her, between the two sofas. 

" You have not brought your violin, I suppose, Jaques?" 
said Dita, eagerly. 

" No yes; I could fetch it if you wish it, Miss Lovel." 

" Go back five miles! certainly not. I would not dream 
of it." 

"In the afternoon," he muttered. 

" Not this afternoon, but one day if you would. I want 
Sir Edward Norton to hear you play so much." 

Jaques raised his eyes, and viewed the other invalid 
with a rather strange look. 

" He is taking my measure," thought Sir Edward, 
" and uncommonly close too." And he said aloud, " Miss 
Lovel has told me so much of the extreme beauty of your 
playing, tluit I am most anxious to hear you." 

Jaques bowed, and the color flushed into his face, as it 
always did when Perdita praised him. 

" Are you coming home soon, Miss Dita?" he said pres- 
ently, "you are so much wanted at home." 

"Is my mother not so well?" cried Dita, anxiously. 



96 DITA. 

"Oh no. your mother is just the same neither better 
nor worse," he said, with a sigh; " but Mr. Lovel is quite 
lost without you, and he won't give Adams any orders 
while you are away." 

" Miss Lovel cannot possibly move before the doctors 
give their permission," said Sir Edward, hastily. 

" Oh no, no, of course not. How are you getting on, 
Miss Dita? I had hoped that you were nearly well." 

" So I am, and I hope to come home in two or three 
days at the latest, Jaques," she said. "I know that poor 
mammie must want me, and I do so long to see her again. 
Are you going to stay at home just now?" 

"No, I am off to-morrow again to Paris; there is a 
great sale to take place there, and I have heard of one or 
two valuable books that I should like to see." 

"It is dreadful to a scholar to lose a book on which he 
lias set his heart," said Sir Edward, addressing himself to 
Perdita. " My friend Blackmore was telling me the other 
day of his having once just missed the chance of De Bry's 
English Virginians which is extraordinarily rare by the 
merest fluke." 

"What did you say the name was, sir?" said Jaques, 
bending forward. 

"Blackmore Mr. John Blackmore." He stopped sur- 
prised, for Jaques uttered a loud explosive chuckle, and 
then immediately resumed his former gravity. 

" How was it?" asked Perdita, a little ashamed of the 
behavior of her friend. 

" He was bargaining for the book at one of those book- 
seller's shops, and the first day he had to do with the 
master, who seemed a pliable sort of man enough, so he 
offered him a low price, but he would not swallow that; 
so he went away, and returning the next day, he found 
only the shopman, an awkward kind of lad, but who knew 
twice as much about the value of the books as did his 
master. And this creature this Caliban, as he called 
him kept him dangling day after dr\y, and on the very 
day on which he had made up his mind to pay the whole 
price demanded, he coolly informed him that the shop 
was closed, and that they were going to retire from busi- 
ness." 

Another loud chuckle from Jaques, but he said noth- 
ing 



DITA. 97 

" It seems to please you that poor Mr. Blackmore 
should have been disappointed, Mr. Danby," said Sir 
Edward, coldly. 

" Oh, not at all; no, no, sir," faltered Jaques. 

"When Blackmore told me about it," went on Sir 
Edward, turning toDita, and smiling, "the tears were in 
his eyes. He said that he had never got over the bitter- 
ness of that disappointment, though it happened many 
years ago; and he finished the story with a not very polite 
interjection in respect to his enemy." 

" Poor man," said Dita laughing merrily. Encouraged 
by her example, Jaques gave way to an irrepressible fit of 
laughter. He struggled, he choked, he tried to stifle it in 
a huge pocket-handkerchief; it became nervous, and he 
was obliged to get up, and, hastily saying good-by, leave 
the room. 

"What an extraordinary creature!" said Sir Ed ward: 
" what could he find in my story to put him into such an 
agonizing condition?" 

" I fancy that he must have known something about it 
all before," said Perdita; "but Jaques is always upset by 
fa joke, and is one of those unlucky people who cannot 
control laughter if it gets beyond a certain point." 

"I confess that I did not perceive the joke. I never 
saw such a person." 

"Aii, you do not know how good he is!" cried Dita. 
"He is a rough diamond indeed." 

"Unfortunately," said Sir Edward, coldly, "one of 
the innate faults of my character is an excess of dislike to 
what is unrefined. I am too fastidious, for merit gives 
me no pleasure without polish." 

" You speak of this as a fault in a tone that betrays 
that you are proud of ir,"said Perdita. indignantly. 

" I beg your pardon," said he. 

" You have nothing for which to beg my pardon. 

Ah " She fancied suddenly that he was asking her 

pardon, because he meant to include her own relations in 
the sweeping speech he had made. The color rushed into 
her face, her nostrils dilated, her eyes flashed, she looked 
quite beautiful. 

" I understand what you mean," she said, slowly. " I 
am obliged to you for undeceiving me in the belief that 
there might have been friendship between us it is at an 



98 BITA. 

end; but though it may be wrong to say so, Sir Edward, 
I have the courage to say that, in some cases at least, the 
parvenu may be the truer gentleman." 

After this she ought to have left the room, there was 
no doubt about it; but as the fates would have it, her leg 
was broken, and his shoulder out of joint and badly set; 
neither could move, and at least an hour must elapse be- 
fore any interruption could come. Eacli took up a book, 
but each saw that the other was not reading, and both 
were very angry indeed. She had called him, or at least 
had as good as told him, that he was not so true a gentle- 
man as old Andrew Lovel; and he had spoken words that, 
as she understood them, she could not easily forgive. The 
clock struck twelve then its single stroke announced 
half-past. 

" They are a long time coming in," said Sir Edward, 
stiffly. 

No answer. Sir Edward went back to his book. 

Presently Mrs. Lee Aston came in. 

" It is very fortunate that you two can entertain each 
other," she said, good-humored ly; " for I am obliged to 
go down to the lodge to see a child there who has burnt 
her foot, and the others will not be home till luncheon. 
But I have devised a new plan of amusement for you; I 
am going to push your sofa nearer to the window, Dita, so 
that you and Sir Edward can play chess." 

" I am so much interested in my book," said Perdita. 

"But I have finished mine," cried Sir Edward. 

"Very well, I will just put you where you can play if 
you like. There is that comfortable?" 

" The light hurts my eyes," said Dita, ungraciously. 

"There is that better?" and their good-natured 
hostess pulled down one of the blinds. 

" Thank you," they both said, and Mrs. Lee Astou bus- 
tled away. 

They were close together, and neither could move, and 
yet they had had a deadly quarrel, and it was an hour and 
a half to luncheon. 

They raised their eyes at the same moment; there was 
something irresistibly funny in the situation, and in spite 
of their anger they both laughed. Sir Edward was the 
first to speak. 

" It was really and truly a thoughtless speech, Miss 



DITA. 1 J'J 

Lovel," he said. "I declare that I meant nothing that 
could offend you. Good heavens! what would you have 
me mean?" 

"Well, perhaps you did not," she said, slowly. 

"After my apology I expect one confession from you." 

"None," said Perdita, decidedly, 

" Yes, I have earned it; and it is this he is a Caliban, 
is he not?" 

"No." 

"Yes, he is a Caliban." 

"Very well, so be it," she said inpatiently. 

" And you are Miranda, and I am Ferdinand, and so 
we will play chess," he said, beginning to arrange the 
board. 

"Then," said Perdita, hesitatingly, "you do not mind 
about what I said." 

"No," said he, superbly; "you were in a passion." 

"I wish I could have walked out of the room," said 
Dita, vindictively. 

" Yes, but heaven interfered. " 

The game lasted until the whole party came in to 
luncheon. The extreme pleasure he took in this daily 
intercourse with Perdita at last opened Sir Edward Nor- 
ton's eyes lie was deeply, devotedly in love with her. 
This only was wanting to show him that the obstacles he 
himself had raised were very slight in reality. A man 
must be ungenerous who will not owe fortune to the wom- 
an lie loves and generosity was as strong an element 
as pride in his composition. It was enough that he loved 
her, the world might say what it would. Some painful 
ordeals would have to be faced: he would have to see An- 
drew in authority in his own hereditary home, he would 
have to owe fortune and Perdita and Salford all to this 
man; but all would be nothing if she would consent to be 
his wife. He now gave himself up to the enjoyment of 
the present: never had he made himself so charming, never 
had he been so gay, so almost boyishly light-hearted; and 
as Perdita shyly received his attentions, his hope became 
stronger and stronger that she was not indifferent to him. 

" Nannie," said Andrew to his wife one day, "some 
day we shall lose our little Dita." 

" What makes you say so?'' she asked, startled. 

"I have just returned from Lee Aston, and Perdita 



100 DITJL. 

comes home to-morrow, and Sir Ed \vard goes back to the 
Grange, and he is to go up to London at once to have his 
arm reset." 

"Well?" said Nannie. 

" When he comes back we shall see him again. 

' The sweet youth's in lovel' " 



CHAPTER XIX. 

IT was December, and all the heather-bloom was dead 
n the hills round Dnnmonaigb, and its brown hue gave 
a deep russet color to the landscape; here and there a 
larch's yellowed foliage gleamed like gold, but all the 
leaves were gono from the hard-wood trees. 

The snow had not yet fallen, nor had there been frost 
enough to bind the lake with ice. 

The ceremony of receiving the chief and his bride had 
always been gone through with the same formalities. 

The carriages drove to the further end of the lake, and 
bride and bridegroom were rowed across to the -castle 
by twelve of the best men of the clan. 

The marriage had taken place in England, and it .was 
the 20th of December before Lady Grisel stood waiting 
for the home-coming. 

Master Malcolm, whose hair was as white as snow, 
seemed as anxious as the mother herself. What would 
she be like, this young English bride, who was coming 
among them? Lady Grisel knew little of her had only 
seen that she was very young, and fair, and childish. 
She sat unright by the fire, her hands clasped together. 
Time had wrought little change in her had brought a 
little more silver into her hair, more softness into the fine 
dark eyes; little but that, for her life had been still and 
monotonous. And it is the storm-tossed rock that is 
broken, not that which is washed by the slow dash of even 
waves. 

Still and monotonous! Years ago what a fate would 
that have seemed to Grisclda Fitz- James! She never 
knew when her ambition died, nor traced the cause of its 
decease; but after Ewau's death, her old longing that 



DITA. 101 

Angus should make to himself a name and position be- 
came chastened and subdued, and in his successes and 
failures her rejoicing and disappointment were only . 
pathetic she hardly knew herself. 

Angus also was changed, and the wealth he had longed 
for so eagerly seemed to weigh on his spirits like lead. 
The mother and son did nothing to rouse each other, 
and the years slipped by. 

"What o'clock is it now, Minister?" said Lady Grisel, 
breaking silence. 

' " Just three they should be here sooner: not yet Lady 
Grisel," he added; " we shall hear the shouts and the 
bagpipes as they approach, and it will be time enough 
then to go to the door." 

"Poor bride! it is cold," said Lady Grisel, shivering. 

"Cold without, but right warm within," said the 
worthy Minister. 

" It will seem very strange to her; Angus and I have 
grown rusty together," said the mother, anxiously. "And 
when I think of a blithe young girl coming to share our 
quiet life, I fear for her happiness. I hope he will be 
kind to her," she said, nervously. 

"She will bring sunshine to the old place," said Master 
Malcolm, with a sigh and a smile. " It will be good for 
all to have the youth and sweetness of a bonnie lassie 
among us Angus is far too grave." 

"He is more than grave," she said; "he is gloomy, 
and easily irritated, and but seldom smiles or laughs 
poor little bride! but it will be different now, will it not?'' 

" Yes," answered he, smiling. "All cannot have the 
same spirits as poor Ewan; even now I can fancy I hear 
his clear ringing laugh and halloo to the dogs on the 
brae." 

"Natures are different," she said, very low. "But 
there was a time when Angus also was gay. I have been 
but a bad companion; my company has sent mirth flying 
with outspread wings." 

" Yet Angus's gravity has won him the maiden of his 
heart," said the Minister; "and we hear that she is good, 
and loving, and pretty." 

"God grant her happiness," said Lady Grisel. 
" Hark! is that not music?" 

"I think not; we will see," lie opened the door, and 



102 DITA. 

Lady Grisel went out on the steps, and shading her eyes 
with her hand, looked over the loch. 

Nothing was to be seen yet; hnt far away sounded 
faintly the shrill wild music of the bagpipes. She re- 
mained standing on the steps, and the water washed al- 
most up to her feet: it looked very deep and gray, and 
the castle threw a dark, undefined shadow over it only 
the scarlet flag reflecting a blood-red stain. 

" The day of our home-coming," said Lady Grisel, 
dreamily, "was all joy and sunshine; the loch sparkled 
like diamonds, and the hills glowed with crimson heather 
and golden gorse. It -was many years ago, Minister, and 
the days seem to me types of the life at Dunmonaigh then 
and no'w, and when I look into my own heart, I read that 
the fault is mine." 

"Do not be afraid, Lady Grisel, said Master Malcolm 
again. "The bride will bring with her her own store of 
happiness, and you must arouse yourselves, and be gay 
for her sake; and by-and-by when she has taken root here, 
you will hear her singing about the house as all happy 
lassies do. Come in, it is very cold." 

"No, no listen!" 

Now on the ear swelled the music louder and louder, 
and the sound of ever-increasing cheering, till round a 
bend of the loch the little fleet of boats swept swiftly. 
Lady Grisel strained her eyes, till in the foremost boat 
she could see Angus with his young bride. Flags and 
streamers flying from the boats, made the scene brilliant 
with color, and the pipers played with enthusiasm the 
welcome of Clan Mouach to their chief and his bride. 
Onward, with long sweeping strokes, came the foremost 
boat, and swept up to the steps. The two first of the 
ir. en leaped out, and crossing their dirks behind the bride 
co 'ducted her to Lady Grisel, who received her into her 
an. s. 

" Welcome! welcome!" was all she could say, as she 
drew them in to the warm fireside. 

Her heart was so full, she could only look at them, and 
hardly speak. 

Angus's cheek flushed, and his restless eyes more rest- 
less than usual; he grasped Master Malcolm's hand with a 
pressure that was more convulsive than affectionate, and 
he walked up and down the room. 



DITA. 103 

Mabel sat by the fire with her warm white furs all round 
her. She looked a fair sweet specimen of a young En- 
glish girl; the color came and went in her cheek, and her 
soft eyes followed every movement of her husband's. 

Lady Grisel's strong emotion puzzled and confused her, 
and after the first warm kiss she knew not how to act. 

At last the servants announced that the crowd had 
abandoned their boats, and gathered again; and Lady 
Grisel led the way to the great door. She passed out first 
and then presented the bride to the people with a solemn 
movement, as if she went through some strange old cere- 
mony. Then the Minister presented to her the keys of 
the castle, and in the sight of the crowd, she handed them 
to the new-wedded chatelaine. 

The cheering and music began again, louder and louder, 
only checked for Angus to utter a few words of thanks. 

Then the servants came out, and some went in, and 
there was feasting and drinking and dancing in the great 
stone kitchen, and cheering and shouts of welcome, far 
into the night. 



CHAPTER XX. 

" PERDITA! come here, Perdita!" Andrew came into 
the great hall in search of the child. 

" I am here," she said, putting her fair head up from 
the low seat in the cloister window. "Why so formal, 
daddy? Mine is a strange case! I have two long dignified 
names of my own, another softer name by which I am 
named, and even that is shorn of its first syllable, unless 
you wish to make use of me, and send mammie a mes- 
sage per Dita." 

" Saucy child, 1 must run your errands now that you 
are lame." 

" Ah! I can walk alone now see!" and disdaining her 
crutches, Perdita put out her arms for balance, and came 
slowly forward. 

" There, that is enough!" cried Andrew, eagerly push- 
ing a chair to her. ft Don't be imprudent; sit down and 
arrange this bouquet," and he threw a great bunch of flow' 
ers on the table. 

Perdita began to separate thorn, and Andrew sat down 



104 DITA. 

by her. " Your mother looks much better, Dita, does she 
not?" 

" A thousand million times better," she answered, gay- 
ly. " I am sure Dr. Grant understands her, and every 
time you quote Shakespeare, daddy, it is like atonic to 
her." 

" Perdita arranging flowers and not talking Shakespeare, 
is an anomaly; begin at once, young lady," said Andrew. 
Dita began 

"Here's flowers for 3-011, 
Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram; 
The marigold that goes to bed wi' the sun, 
And with him rises weeping; these are flowers 
Of middle summer, and I think they are given 
To men of middle age. You're very welcome." 

"Bravo!" cried Perdita. "Is not that an apt quota- 
tion.? I have not recited my Perdita speeches since I was 
a very little child, and had a beautiful long mane. What 
an orchid, daddy! Do tell Adams to grow a great many 
more of this kind." 

" Orchids! orchids! where do you find orchids in 
Shakespeare? All old-fashioned flowers for me." 

" You must introduce orchids in your own plays, then. 
Of course lie would have introduced them if he had seen 
such beauties as these; they are more like the flowers of 
Paradise than of earth," she said, enthusiastically. 

" Yes, especially that monkey-faced specimen," said 
Mr. Lovel, with supreme contempt. 

l/i ta Jttrtgnea. They have a new one at the Lee 
Astons'," she said, "which I had never seen before. Mrs. 
Lee Aston promised to tell me the name, but I forgot it." 

" Were you very happy there?" asked Andrew, rather 
wistfully. 

"Oh, so very, very happy!" answered Dita. "They 
were all more kind to me than I could express. Hark! 
do you hear Jaque's violin?" 

There came to their ears a lovely, far -distant sound, 
rising and falling, passing through strange cadences, now 
sweet, now straining, then swelling into those yearning 
sounds which make the listener feel as if the musician 
played on his very heart-strings. 

Neither spoke while it lasted, but when the musk 



DITA. 105 

broke off abruptly in an nnfinisi-ed passage, they looked 
at each other in astonishment. 

" I never heard Jaques do that before, what can have 
happened?" said Perdita. " Dear d.iddy, an you love me, 
look out of the drawing-room window the sound of the 
music comes from the shrubbery and tell me whether 
Jaques lives, or has fallen dead!" 

The sound of the violin was again heard as of a hand 
dashed across it a curious twanging discord, all out of 
tune like a breaking heart. Perdita gave a little shiver 
and turned to her flowers; some of the ferns had been too 
long out of water and were dead, and she threw them 
aside. 

Andrew returned from the window, saying, gayly, 

" Jaques's abrupt ending was owing to the arrival of a 
visitor. You will find it hard to believe, Dita. It was 
Sir Edward Norton, who has at last made up his mind to 
come under the roof of Salford Abbey." 

The color flushed into Dita's face, and she turned away 
her head; but Andrew saw it, and the shy sweet smile on 
her lips, and he smiled and sighed. 

Five, ten minutes passed and he did not come in, then 
Andrew went once more to the drawing-room window. 

''Sir Edward has stopped to have a little conversation 
with Jaques," he said. ''They are under the oak-tree; 
he has fastened the reins of his horse to a branch; they 
are going into the shrubbery." 

'* I think mammie must be down by this time," was 
Perdita's answer; and, taking the prettiest flowers, she 
went to Mrs. Lovel's room. 

" 'Ban, 'Ban Ca-Caliban, 
Has a new master Get a new man. 
Freedom! heyday 1" 

Quotations are infectious, and Sir Edward muttered 
these words- to himself as he rode up the road and espied 
Jaques's uncouth figure playing on the lawn. 

The music broke short with that strange twang, and 
he also shuddered, and wondered at the jar of the nerves 
it produced. And lo! Caliban strode across his path, 
and, hand on rein, entreated for five minutes' conversa- 
tion. 

Sir Edward, much surprised, dismounted very unwill- 



106 DITA. 

ingly. His horse was a quiet old animal, fitted to carry 
a man with one arm in a sling, and he tied him to a tree 
and signified to Jaques that he was ready to listen to him. 
It seemed doubly hard just now he was going to meet 
his fate; to lay all his love, his pride, his poverty at the 
feet of his fair lady; and the hope that he had won her 
love made all sacrifice seem as nothing to him. 

What could Jaques have to say to him? His rugged 
face was as pale as ashes, and his eyes were troubled. 

"We cannot talk here, sir," he said, rather hoarsely. 
"Would you mind coming a few steps with me into the 
ihrubbery?" 

" I do not mind standing, Mr. Danby, and we can speak 
just as well here. I am rather in haste." 

"I will not keep you that is - " 

"You will forgive me, if I ask you not to detain me 
long. If you could call on me at the Grange, for instance, 
I should be able to attend to you better." 

"No, now I must speak to you now, sir." 

"Very well," said Sir Edward, impatiently; " I am all 
attention." 

" For what object have you overcome your horror of 
entering your old home?" 

" You presume, Mr. Danhy: that is a question you have 
no right to ask." 

"I have a right!" cried Jaques; "and if you will have 
patience with me, I will show you that I have a right." 

Sir Edward leaned against the great oak-tree, and 
looked at Jaques in increased astonishment. 

" I decline to answer your question, Mr. Danby," he 



Jaques raised his eyes and again looked at him with 
that earnest look that had made Edward Norton feel that 
he was endeavoring to read him through and through; 
then he said abruptly 

I cannot talk here, Sir Edward; we are in full view of 
the windows; for Heaven's sake do what I beg of you 
follow me!" 

Edward Norton's curiosity was aroused, and, tighten- 
ing the bridle on the branch of the tree, he followed 
Jaques, who strode on before him into the wood. 

Danby thrust aside the boughs, and as he did so the 
remaining dead leaves rustled to the ground, and he 



DITA. 107 

poshed his way into a small open space where two paths 
crossed, and there was a seat; it was well shut in from 
sight. He threw himself on the seat, and stooping for- 
ward covered his eyes with one hand, the elbow resting on 
.his knee, and began to speak at once. 

"Sir Edward," he said, "I take you for a man of 
honor." 

He did not see the half-mocking bow of assent. 

" I wish to save you from either committing an action 
that you will always regret, or one that you cannot do 
without forfeiting that honor." 

" You speak in riddles, Mr. Danby." 

" Sir Edward, I am not clever or even clear-sighted, 
but I have discerned your love for our Perdita." 

"I desire you to be silent, sir," said Edward Norton, 
angrily. " These matters concern no one but myself, and 
I will not permit Miss Lovel's name to be used. You 
assume too much." 

" Has no one feelings but yourself?" cried Jaques, start- 
ing up. "She is my adoration; she has been my idol 
since I first taught her little feet to walk, her sweet 
voice to lisp my name; for years, years have I loved her 
you have only known her a few short weeks." 

" This is intolerable," muttered Sir Edward. 

" I did not call you to tell you that!" went on Jaques, 
excitedly. " I called you to prove your love; to find out 
whether it has power to break through the traditions of 
your haughty race. Have you considered well?" he said, 
in a strange, hard voice. " Perdita is not your equal." 

"Mr. Danby." 

" Hush! I will not detain you; but have patience with 
me, 1 beseech you." 

Something pathetic in the voice of the strange being 
before him made Sir Edward put aside his indignation 
and resolve to listen. 

"You have considered how far beneath you she is in 
position?" 

"I have." 

" That the Lovels are of very humble origin: he a book- 
seller in London, she a petty farmer's daughter, trained 
to milk the cows." 

"I know." 



108 

" You know them to be honest; good, and true, al- 
though such homely folks." 

"Yes all else is nothing." 

"You know that the world will say that, for the sake 
of Salford, you have bowed your pride to wed the daughter 
of a tradesman." 

"I do not care." 

" Your love, then, is strong enough to overcome more 
obstacles than these?" 

'There are no more " 

"Man! man!" cried Jaques, eagerly, "you are not 
equal " 

"In everything!" cried Sir Edward; "for she brings 
such a dower of goodness and innate nobility, that my 
poor advantages of birth scarcely level the scale." 

" You love her so well that if if " 

" What do you mean?" cried Sir Edward. 

" This, you think to wed the child of honest folks 
a bride whose birth, though of humble origin, is as honest 
as your own. This is not so." 

" What do you mean? Speak, or I will wring it from 
you," and he seized his arm. 

"Perdita is no child of theirs; they took her orphaned 
from the workhouse, mid she has no name." 

Sir Edward staggered back against the tree as white as 
death. Jaqnes laughed bitterly. 

"This straw has broken the camel's back," he said. 
"Yes, it is quite true, she is no fit bride for you, too 
low of birth, and a thousand times too high for the scorn 
of your noble family! I have warned you; for if you had 
pledged your troth, and, hearing the truth, had broken 
it, by the Heaven above us, I could have murdered 
you! I have saved your pride or your honor, Sir Edward 
Norton." 

"I have been grossly deceived." 

" I have undeceived you now. I was right, was T not? 
The obstacle is too strong." 

"Leave me to think; you will drive me mad! The 
workhouse! a nameless orphan! Danbv, are you telling 
me the truth?" 

"As I hope for salvation. You can look in the case- 
books of the workhouse in King John Street, Soho, and 



DITA. 109 

you will find No. 14. The father at least was a gentle- 
man, the mother an Italian, and " 

"Step, stop! you torture me. Danby, you are right; 
the obstacle is too strong, Dita, even for you!" A look 
of agony passed over his face, and he almost broke down; 
then added suddenly " All this, of course, is quite 
private between ourselves, and she need never know." 

Jaques was standing watching him fixedly: "I judged 
rightly," he safd between his teeth; "and it would have 
broken her heart." 

Sir Edward was turning away, when he suddenly came 
back. 

" You meant well," he said, hoarsely, " and I am not 
ungrateful." 

" I do not care for your gratitude," said Jaques, 
roughly, "I have saved Perdita from what she might 
have had to bear if the truth had come too late, and proved 
too hard." 

"And you love her also?" 

" I love her as mortals love the angels, she is the idol 
of my life!" 

"And I?" 

"Take refuge with your dignity;" and Jaques broke 
through the trees and was gone. 

Mr. Lovel came into his wife's sitting-room. Perdita 
sat on a stool by her sofa, her head in her mother's lap, 
while Nannie played with her yellow hair; her rosy lips 
smiled with the shy joyousness of a child. 

"After all, Dita, our visitor has not come in," said he, 
in a disturbed voice. " When he came out'of the shrub- 
bery he mounted his horse and galloped off like a very 
madman, nor looked once behind him." 

A little shadow passed over the young girl's brow, a 
light seemed to have gone from her life, a vague sense of 
a cloud passing between her and the sun. Who does not 
know that chill feeling? 

"I fancy Jaques must have said something to him 
which offended him. I wonder what it could have been!" 
continued Andrew, uneasily; "and Jaques is playing 
again so strangely." 

" I will go to him," said Dita, calmly rising; and 



110 DITA. 

Andrew, anxious to talk to Nannie, did not seek to stop 
her. 

The violin was sounding strangely wild, passing from 
one mad strain to another, fast and loud, with a kind 
of wail in its merriment that made it weird and un- 
natural. 

Perdita went out, the colors of earth, trees, and sky 
seemed dimmed because of the shadow that had com? 
bet \veen her and the sun. She came up to the musi- 
cian as he stood playing under the oak and put out 
her hand, the notes died faintly away. 

" Jaques," she said, drearily " Jaques, he is gone." 

"Yes, yes, Miss Dita, and it is better so." 

She raised her eyes to his, and did not know how faith- 
fully he read the simple story in their dark depths. One 
long, deep sigh he gave, then he turned his head aside, 
and said, without looking at her 

" I told him your real origin his love was not enough, 
to conquer." 

" I know," she said, softly. He began to play again a 
little soft cadence, and while the sweetest sounds swelled 
forth, she went gently away. His hand passed roughly 
over the instrument, and a string cracked loudly: Jaques 
put down his violin and sat down on the ground, there 
was a look in his face of intense suffering, but he set to 
work patiently to mend the broken string and his broken 
heart. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE December that had begun so well grew colder and 
T, and snow six inches deep lay on the ground on 
Christmas-day. The birds had nothing to eat; Perdita 
fed them from her windows, and delighted in their in- 
creasing tarn en ess. Mrs. Lovel never left the house, and 
in her warm rooms she managed to remain pretty well. 
Perdita was no longer lame, but she could not be out quite 
as much as she used to be, and the life atSalford was very 
still and quiet. 

There was an unspoken shadow over them all. Perdita 
had thought her secret all her own, and did not know 



DITA. Ill 

that the three who loved her best had seen all, and to each 
other hud spoken openly. Jaques told Mrs. Lovel what 
he had done; he told her that he knew the strong pride of 
Edward Norton's family, it was a proverb in the place; 
he told her that long ago he had foreseen what would come, 
and dreaded the effect of the disclosure of Perdita's true 
birth. 

"It was to save her I did it," faltered Jaques. "He 
would have broken it off, or if not he, his family would 
have done it for him, and she would have suffered." He 
said that an instinct warned him when he saw him riding 
along, that the time to speak had come. And Nannie 
could not but acknowledge that he had done well and 
wisely. 

Perdita was not sad, only she was no longer gay, and 
now and then looked very wistful; her love for Edward 
Norton was not admitted or acknowledged even to her- 
self; so when lie went away, and never came again, she 
was conscious of a dull aching in lier heart which she 
scarcely understood. 

On Christmas-day she and her father walked down to 
the church together. It was a hard frost, and the crisp 
snow crackled under foot, and the trees, powdered with 
sparkling hoar-frost, looked like frosted silver; above, the 
sullen gray sky was heavy with snow yet to come. 

When a young heart is gay and joyous, cold brightens 
and invigorates; when it is sad, even a little sad, cold 
gnaws and chills. Perdita hurried through the snow and 
drew her fur cloak tighter round her. 

It was a little, simple old church, with a square low 
tower of great antiquity. The congregation were mostly 
laborers and their families. The clergyman was very old, 
and during his life no restoration could be made. Dita 
had placed holly wreaths in the windows, and all the best 
flowers she could find in the green-houses decked the 
church; and all eyes were fixed admiringly on her work. 

They came 111 and went straight to the squire's pew, 
which faced the pulpit; it was an old-fashioned place, and 
Perdita knelt down covering her face with her slender 
fingers. Quite in the background came in among the la- 
borers an unwonted figure. Sir Edward Norton, looking 
very ill and worn, sat down at the fur end of the church, 



112 DITA. 

where he could see the fair outlines of Perdita's face and 
her waving golden hair above the old oak ]>e\v. He did 
not move when during the service the congregation rose 
up and knelt down, hut sat still, leaning forward with his 
eyes fixed on her as though he would pwnt her image on 
his brain. 

Then came a hymn the glorious Christmas hymn, 
which is grand even when sung by school-children in a 
village church and in the middle of the sacred strain he 
stole away out. Perdita looked half round, bnt she never 
ceased singing. A ray of light pierced through the som- 
ber sky and lighted up her hair till it seemed to shine like 
a halo. 

A dog-cart was waiting outside, a portmanteau within 
it, and Edward Norton was driven swiftly away to the 
station. 

"Dita," said her father gently, as they walked home, 
"Do you know who was in church?" 

"Sir Edward Norton," she said quietly. 

"You knew?" 

"I thought so." 

" It was his good -by. Lady Norton came yesterday. 
She has persuaded him to go abroad he has been ill. 
He goes to-day." 

"Let us walk faster, dady it is very cold." And 
they walked quickly on. 

Nannie was able to come into the dining-room that day, 
and afterward the usual distribution of dinners and gifts 
took place. By four o'clock all was over, and Dita nestled 
into her favorite little corner by Mrs. Level's sofa with a 
book, and Jaques and Andrew went out for a walk. 
Suddenly the door-bell rang with a loud, vigorous pull, 
and within five minutes a whole tribe of Lee Astons and 
Grethards poured into the room all the schoolroom party 
headed by Meta. They had come, they said, to carry 
off Perdita, by force if necessary; they were to have 
charades and tableaux vivants, and every kind of amuse- 
ment for a house full of children; and Jack had come 
home and persuaded his mother to send them off to bring 
the solitary little home-bird into their merry circle. 

Perdita's cheek flushed, and there came to her a longing 
wish to be one of the children again, merry and happy, 



DITA. 113 

and free from care; there came into her mind the refrain 
of that pathetic song, 

" Make me a child again, just for to-night." 

She was tired of the blank tired of the long day; her 
youth resented care, she was so young. 

Mrs. Lovel's watchful eye saw and read Dita's face, and 
she accepted for her eagerly, and would not listen to her 
assertions that she could not leave them alone on Christ- 
mas-day. 

She was not to return that night; and in less than a 
quarter of an hour, Perdita, and a box containing all that 
she would want, were packed closely into the little omni- 
bus full of children. It was a gay scene into which Dita 
came, blinking her large eyes, from the darkness; and she 
was quickly divested of her warm wraps, coaxed and pet- 
ted, and made much of, and immensely amused by all 
the merry games going on among children and elders to- 
gether. 

She had wondered in the carriage how she should meet 
Jack; but he came swiftly up, with a warm shake of the 
hand, and was here, there, and everywhere, with rather 
boisterous fun. All seemed like a dream, the noise and 
the warmth and the shouts, as they played earth, air, and 
water; and for half a moment she shut her eyes, to try 
and realize it all; but she was summarily roused by a 
sharp blow from the ball, and a shout of earth, 1, 2, 3, 4, 
5, 6, 7. 

'Trout, salmon, eagle!" she cried, in an agony of 
hurry, and then followed a burst of laughter; she was 
fairly roused, and found herself playing with as much 
vigor as little Dick, the youngest Grethard, still in knick- 
erbockers. Then came a pause, and in marched the butler, 
carrying a magnificent dish of snap-dragon, and the lamps 
were carried out, and the fun rose to the highest pitch. 
One of Lady Aniline's children, little Alice, was rather 
frightened, and Dita held her hand to coax her. Then 
the salt was thrown on, and the usual effect produced, 
Jack and the boys adding to the terrors by the most hor- 
rible grimaces. 

At eight o'clock the little children dispersed to bed, and 
the elder onts went to dress for dinner, while all the per- 



114 DITA. 

formers in the evening's amusement joined in a school- 
room tea. 

Perdita begged to be allowed to join them she was the 
merriest among them; once, when the recollection of her 
troubles flashed across her, she wondered at herself, and 
fancied that they were all untrue, that her troubles could 
not b.e real only a mistake. 

When the charades were over, dancing began. Dita 
was still afraid to venture, but Mrs. Lee Aston made her 
sit close beside her, and she enjoyed it almost as much. 

"Not one dance?" asked Jack; "will you not dance 
even one? What a fatal first ball that was!" 

"Dita gave a little shiver; but she answered gayly, 
" Not one; my dancing days are over." 

"I wonder what my Mabel isdoing!" said Lady Armine, 
wistfully; and her thoughts were wandering away to the 
first of her nestlings who had taken wing. 

Far away in Dunmonaigh, Mabel was standing at her 
window alone, and the large tears were rolling down her 
cheeks. Christmas-day, when all families meet together, 
and the boys are home from school, and life is at its 
brightest, she stood alone, looking out on the frozen lake, 
where the moon gleamed over the snow, and each black 
Scotch fir was shrouded with white. It was very cold, and 
her heart was full, longing for the father and mother who 
loved her so fondly, for the noisy brothers and the merry 
sisters who overflowed her home; all was so dignified, and 
all seemed so old, she would fain have been silly and 
childishly merry again. Angus was kind, and Lady Grisel 
was even too anxious to do all for her she could; but they 
were so wise and old, and Mabel felt as if she were flut- 
tering in a cage; and as she looked out, she pressed her 
forehead against the cold window-pane and sobbed, and 
kissed the great packet of letters that had arrived that 
riiorning, the loving blessings from her parents, the pages 
of schoolroom news from her sisters, and the boyish 
"Merry Christmases" from all the boys. 

Then she started on hearing her husband's voice, and 
carefully wiped her eyes and put the letters away. He 
had thought them silly in the morning, and she would 
rather he did not speak of them again; so she smoothed 
her soft hair, and stole down stairs, for fear that Angus 
should come and seek her. 



DITA. 115 

The dancing at the Lee Astons' went on till past mid- 
night; then all was over, and Perdita went up to bed. 
What a strange long day if, seamed! and then she -started 
and gave a little moan, for the pain came back to her 
heart with a sudden pang, and she knew that it hud but 
slept for a time, and that it lived and was very keen. 
Her little simple prayer went up for distant friends, for 
Edward and for Mabel, and when she fell asleep her 
pillow was wet with tears. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

N the spring came Nannie was not well enough to 
leave Salford, so the journey to the German baths was 
postponed till the autumn, with which arrangement they 
were all well pleased. 

The fine sunny summer brought back some strength to 
the invalid; she was able to be constantly out of doors, 
and the quiet and peace made her enjoy it much. 

The Armines and Lee Astons, and all the gayer neigh- 
bors, were gone to London , but Perdita was almost glad, 
as it left her free to devote herself to Mrs. Lovel, whom 
she watched with clinging tenderness. 

At last, when the middle of July was reached the doctor 
would hear of no further delay. A courier was engaged, 
and the whole party started on their journey. 

Badfeld lay, as do most of such towns, in a valley, 
mountains rising hopelessly on every side. The railway 
ran through the midst of the valley, which was perhaps a 
mile wide, and the low ground was swampy and wet. 
The town was built on a lower slope of the hills: a huge 
square hotel, with windows enough for a manufactory, 
stood in a large jrarden, and there were innumerable steep 
little walks through the low fir-woods on the mountain- 
side. 

The little party arrived very tired after a hot dusty 
journey one Thursday evening, and found the courier 
(who had preceded them by an earlier train) in despair. 
There were no rooms to be had except one small bedroom 
on the fifth floor. 

They looked at each other in dismay. The hotel- 



116 DITA. 

keeper could give them no hope, though their rooms had 
been ordered weeks before: more and more people were 
arriving daily, and he was at his wits' end where to put 
them. 

*=f A large family came yesterday," he said, "and I 
know not how long she stays. If she go, these ladies shall 

immediately occupy their apartments; if not " and he 

shrugged his shoulders. 

A carrying-chair was brought, and Mrs. Lovel was car- 
ried up stairs to the one room, while Mr. Lovel and the 
courier sallied forth on an expedition to all the other 
hotels and lodging-houses in the town, to see if any rooms 
could be hud. 

They returned in triumph; they found that though the 
Schweitzerhof (of which every village in German Switzer- 
land possesses one) was quite full, it had belonging to it 
a ti'ly little chalet, a dependance containing five rooms. It 
was now occupied by a German princess with her two 
daughters, but they were going to leave on the following 
morning, and Andrew had joyfully secured it all. 

For this one night Perdita must sleep with her mother 
nml the maid, and two beds were rolled in from the pas- 
sage; and Andrew could find a room for himself in the 
Badhof, a little inn some wav off in the town. 

It was a great relief to think that the present state of 
things was not to continue, and they were in better 
spirits than they had ventured to think possible an hour 
before. 

Nannie bad her dinner brought up to her room; and 
Perdita and her father went down to the table d'hote 
room. 

It was all new to both of them, and they were much 
amused by the crowd of people seated in groups round 
little talies eating and talking ceaselessly. The courier 
mars-haled them to a table which they were to share 
\\uth two ladies and three very magnificent German offi- 
cers, who rose at their approach and bowed profoundly. 

Suddenly Perdita uttered an exclamation of pleasure. 

"Oh father, how delightful! a familiar face." 

And there at a round table in a corner of the great room, 
Andrew saw Lady Armine with three of her children, and 
a lady whom Dita knew to be the governess. They had 
just finished their supper and were leaving the room. 



DITA. 117 

Dita would fain have run after them, but did not dare 
in that crowd; but she was in high spirits at having al- 
ready found companions for their time at Badfeld. 

Mildred Grethard was the next sister to Mabel;' she 
was eighteen years old, and lately come out; and now that 
the eldest daughter was married, she was her mother's 
constant companion. The next girl, Mary, was suffering 
from a weakness of the spine, and it was for her sake that 
they were there. 

She and the little boy, Dick, were the only ones still in 
the schoolroom, he not being yet old enough to go to 
school. 

The next morning was spent by the Lovels in moving 
and settling in the chalet, which rejoiced in the name of 
Bellevue. It was a nice little house, a pretense Swiss cot- 
tage, with a large veranda, into which all the long French 
windows opened. It was fixed, as it were, into the side 
of the mountain, so that there was a sweet smell of fir- 
wood round about it. In front, great crimson oleanders 
grew in tubs, and were in full flower. 

It took Mrs. Lovel's fancy at once; she had never ex- 
pected to be so much pleased with anything out of Eng- 
land. Whether it was the smallness of it that gave her 
the impression that she had realized the real dream of 
her life a beautiful little rural cottage or whether it 
was only the rest and repose after the crowded and noisy 
hotels they had been in, but she seemed to be thoroughly 
settled and happy there at once, to Andrew's great joy. 

They had brought all sorts of pillows and air-cushions 
with them, and Nannie was carried out to a sofa under 
the veranda, where she could lie among the oleanders, and 
see through the trees all the gayly-dressed people walking 
in the garden or listening to the never-ceasing band. 

There was a spare room kept in the chalet for Jaques, 
in case he shrfhld join them later. 

In the afternoon Mr. Lovel and Dita found out the 
rooms which Lady Armine inhabited, and went to call on 
her. A waiter carried their cards in to No. 95, but before 
the answer came, Mildred came running out to beg them 
to come in. The girls were quite enchanted to see Per- 
dita. 

Whether Lady Armine was as enclmnted to see Andrew 
was not quite so certain, but she nad a great respect 



118 DITA. 

for him, and a most cordial liking for his wife, and she 
greeted both father and daughter with warm kindness. 

Perdita was pressed to spend as much time as she couM 
spare with the girls, and it was insisted on that she should 
share their German master, and come and play whenever 
she liked upon the piano, which they had secured by a 
rare piece of good fortune. 

Then Lady Armine put on her bonnet and went across 
the garden with Andrew to see Mrs. Lovel, and the three 
girls sat down to have a chat together. 

" And how are you, Mary?" said Perdita; "how many 
baths have you had?" 

" Only three, and they are very pleasant. They are 
beautiful white baths, and the water is blue, and as clear 
as crystal." 

" And the woman next door," shouted Dick, who could 
never control his voice, *"' sings all the time at the top of 
her voice a sort of howl without any air in it; and Mary 
says it is exactly like the banshee." 

" Not so loud, Dick, please; but it is quite true, it is a 
most horrible sound, for it never goes with the band; and 
with the constant rush of water into the baths, it has a 
most eerie effect." 

"Jones told Miss Benton," pursued Dick, "that the 
woman's maid's name is Streichhoch, pronounced like a 
hiccough." 

" My dear iTick!" 

"And Streichhoch told Jones that her lady (that's the 
Banshee) is always afraid of having a fit in her bath, and 
if she stops singing for one moment she is to run in with 
a jug of cold water." 

" I should have thought that there was water enough 
already," said Dita, laughing. " What is this singing 
lady like on terra firrnd?" 

"She is beautiful," said Dick, gravely. 

" She has golden hair, and the pinkest cheeks, and the 
blackest eyebrows conceivable," said Mildred, " and she 
is Dick's ideal of female beauty." 

"Are there any more funny people here?" asked 
Perdita. 

" There is an Italian lady who sits with her legs 
crossed, smoking cigarettes, whom we often watch. And, 
by the bye, a friend of yours has been here; she passed 



DITA. 119 

through Badfeld last week, on her way to the Italian 
lakes." 

" Who is that?" 

" Lady Norton; she has a Miss Gray with her, a niece 
whom she is very fond of, and they are going to meet Sir 
Edwai'd at Como. They mean to linger there until it is 
cool enough for traveling home. He has been climbing 
all the worst mountains in Switzerland." 

" He is fond of Alpine climbing," said Dita, her heart 
beating quickly. 

" Yes; and Lady Norton says that even the guides are 
astonished at his powers." 

" Have you seen the eagle?" interrupted Dick. 

" No; what eagle?" 

"It comes from the mountains," answered Mildred; 
"and has been seen several times in the valley." 

"Such a fine fellow!" cried Dick; "immense! and Sir 
Edward told Lady Norton that he saw him " 

"No, Dick, not that eagle an eagle." 

" Swoop down and carry off a very fat little marmot in 
its mouth its claws, I mean. I believe they feel about 
and pick out the fattest." 

" Then they certainly will not catch you," said Per- 
dita, making a dash at the little blue knickerbockers, 
which skillfully wriggled out of reach. 

" Jack comes to-morrow," shouted Dick, apropos de 
fiottes. 

" Mr. Lee Aston, you most impertinent little monkey !" 
cried Mildred. 

"Jack I always call him Jack," said Dick. "It will 
be great fun when he comes." 

"What can he becoming here for?" said Dita, won- 
deringly. 

" He is very rheumatic, and has a bone in his back," 
said Dick. 

"My dear boy!" 

" He told me so himself; he said it was a dreadful 
bone a whole yard long," and Dick's face looked quite in 
earnest. 

"I do not know why he is coming," said Mildred, her 
protty cheeks more pink than usual. 

" We saw a great deal of him in London, and when we 



120 DITA. 

came abroad he went to Dnnmonaigh to see Mabel and 
Angus, and he promised to come out here and tell us all 
about them afterward." 

A pleasant idea came into Perdita's mind, and smiling 
herself, she caught a corresponding smile on Mary's face. 

" I am very glad he is coming," she said, gayly. 

" He said the waters would melt the bone if they were 
hot enough," said Dick. " I asked him if it would hurt, 
and he said awfully." 

"Poor fellow!" said Dita, laughing. 

" You have heard of his new fortune, have you not?" 
said Mary. 

"No, but I shall be delighted at any good fortune 
coming to any of those dear people." 

"His old aunt, Miss Ash burn, has made him her heir, 
and now gives him a very good allowance; is it not nice?" 

" I am so glad! I always thought that she was a kind 
old lady, and very fond of Jack Lee Aston." 

" They are all delighted," said Mildred. " For though 
he is quite clever enough to make his own way, of course 
it would have been slow work." 

" Jack will be able to tell us about Mabel's big dog," 
said Dick, finding his friend's prospects a very dull topic 
of conversation. 

" Has Mabel a big dog?" said Perdita. 

" Yes, almost as big as a little pony. Lady Grisel got 
it for her because she wanted one; she gets her everything 
she wants." 

" That is very nice for her." 

"She's not nice now," said Dick, discontentedly; "she 
always used to be so jolly, but she's quite spoilt; and 
when mamma and Milly and I went there, they kept 
telling me to run away just as if I was one of the babies." 

"Oh, Dick, Dick, nonsense!" cried Mildred. 

" It's not nonsense," cried he, indignantly; "and she 
never laughs and plays now as we used " 

"Tell me, is not Dunmonaigh quite beautiful?" asked 
Perdita, anxious to stop Dick's confidences. 

"Yes, lovely! quite beautiful!" said Mary, hastily; 
" Mamma and Mildred were there for nearly a fortnight 
before they went to London." 

"Arid Mabel was quite well and flourishing, I hope?" 



DITA. 12 L 

"Yes, she was well," said Mildred; and she walked to 
the piano to hide that her eyes had filled with tears. She 
could still feel the clasp of her sister's arms tight round 
her neck, and hear her passionate cry of " Oh, how can 
I let yon go, mother! how can I let you leave me!" when 
poor Mabel's little attempts at concealment all broke 
down, and they saw too plainly that she was not happy. 

" Quick, quick, Milly, Miss Lovel!" shouted Dick, 
rushing to the window. 

" What is it?" asked Perdita, running after him. 

" Look! there is the Banshee going to the fountain 
do look!" 

Across the gravel-walk swept a magnificently-dressed 
lady, in a cloud of white muslin and Mali nee lace, with 
masses of golden hair, and the black eyebrows Mildred had 
described. 

" A most substantial Banshee," said Perdita, laughing, 
for the lady was not ethereal. 

" I know all about her," said Dick, eagerly. " She is 
very grand outside, and dreadfully stingy; she only 
gives " 

"Dick," said Mary, shaking her head, "you know 
you ought not to listen to silly gossip." 

"Dick, Dick, always Dick!" cried the incorrigible boy; 
" well, I won't say a word, but next time I see her, I'll 
sing 

' Here a penny, there a penny, everywhere a penny.'" 

Dick had been with his sister to see "The Happy Land," 
and had adopted its songs; now he was dancing all about 
the room singing 

" With a little penny here, and a little penny there f 
Here a penny, there a penny, everywhere a penny!" 

and in the midst of his song, Miss Bentou came in and 
carried him off for a walk 

Perdita looked at her watch, and finding that time had 
passed quicker than she could have believed possible, hur- 
ried back to the chalet. 

She found Lady Armine still sitting with Mrs. Lovel, 
and the former told her that she had been making all 
sorts of arrangements for her to spend a great deal of timo 



122 DITA. 

with Mildred and Mary, and that she thought that to- 
gether they ought to enjoy Badfeld very much. Lady 
Armine made an appointment to call on Mrs. Lovel the 
next day about one o'clock, when poor Xannie \vas always 
d >\vn and at her best; and then she went away, leaving a 
general impression of kindnesa and warmth behind her 
that was veiy pleasant. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

IN Dunmonaigh Castle was one very quaint and charm* 
ing room which had been carefully prepared by Lady 
Grisel for Mabel's use. It was square, and had two re- 
cesses in round turrets at one end, their narrow windows 
looking over the loveliest views of the country round 
the south windows over the loch, the western ones toward 
beautiful Benichon and its range of purple hills. 

The walls were hung with pale-green silk, old oriental 
plates upon them, and great oriental china jars were in 
the corners, full of pot-pourri, which gave out an old- 
fashioned aromatic smell. 

Lady Grisel herself was wont always to occupy a high- 
backed chair, but she had supplied Mabel's rooms with 
luxurious furniture, all covered with the same fine old 
silk, of which there had been rolls lying by in the huge 
lumber-rooms up stairs. 

In this room Lady Grisel and Mabel were alone one 
evening Angus had gone to Edinburgh on business, and 
would not return that night. Lady Grisel had ordered 
one of the old boxes to be brought down from the lum- 
ber-room to amuse Mabel; they were full of treasures 
forgotten and thrown aside, but well worth a rummage. 

They watted till the lights should be brought; and 
Mabel sat in the turret with her elbow on the window- 
sill, and her eyes on the loch, so still and dark in the 
waning light. 

Lady Grisel sat half leaning back in her stiff chair, 
with her hands lightly clasped over the bunch of keys in 
her lap. 

" Mabel," she said, gently, " shall we ring for the cau- 
dles to be lighted r 



DITA. 2 

"Not yet; it is so pleasant in this half light." 

" You are too young to love the gloaming, child," said 
Lady Grisel, sadly. " When I was your age, I could not 
bear that hour always daylight and brilliant lamplight for 
me." 

" There is a little young moon," said Mabel; "and it 
looks so pretty on the deep water." 

A sound in her daughter-in-law's yoice made Lady 
Grisel rise and approach her. 

" Mabel! crying agai-n; my poor child!" 

There was a look almost of despair in Lady Grisel's 
face, as Mabel rose, and coming to her, sat down on the 
ground, and burying her face in her lap, gave way to a 
passion of sobs and tears. 

"Tell me, darling, tell me what ails you? Oh, Mabel, 
why cannot we make you happy?" 

" It is very wrong; please forgive me." 

"Forgive you, my poor child! it is I that should ask 
for forgiveness. Why did you ever come from your happy 
home to this house? Has Angus been unkind to you 
again?" 

" It is very silly," said Mabel, trying to brush away her 
tears; " but when I wanted to kiss him and say good-by, 
he pushed me away and said, ' There, that will do.' He 
does not love me; he is so hard. Oh! I ought not to say 
all this." 

- " And you," murmured Lady Grisel, fondly, "you have 
been so much coaxed and petted all your life, poor wee 
thing!" 

" Do you think he would have married me if he had 
not loved me?" said poor Mabel. "Ah! he seems to be 
made of stone!" 

'My poor child," said his mother, "Angus is not 
young like you: he has grown accustomed to a cold, calm 
life. I never have caressed him as you young things do 
he never could bear caressing even as a child. Do not 
expect him to come into your ways at once: be patient, 
and try to win him; and oh, do not let your own warm 
little heart grow cold !" 

"He speaks so bitterly to me," faltered Mabel. 

"I know I know it too well." 

"Mamma told me to think only of his happiness, and 
in doing that, I should forget that I am not happy my 



124 DITA. 

self: and I have tried oh, believe me, I have tried hard; 
but I seem to have no power to affect his happiness one 
way or another. I cannot make him smile by being gay, 
or sad by crying it is cold, calm indifference, and it 
wounds me, it hurts me so." 

" I believe, Mabel, that in his heart of hearts, he has 
warm, strong affections, but, as with all men who are re- 
served, they are hidden." 

" Why, then, lias he trained his whole life down to a 
calm, dead, monotonous level day after day the same 
still smile, except when he is angry? Oh, I cannot get 
Jock's howls out of my ears since he beat him yesterday! 
But, to-day, again, the same incessant activity, as though 
he could not sit down for one moment to think, or dream, 
or talk to me." 

Lady Grisel passed her hand over her brow, Mabel 
went on 

"I suppose I shall tone down to it; sometimes I feel 
already that I begin to fossilize, but not with you." 

She hid her face again: Lady Grisel softly stroked her 
hair. 

" My child," she said, "I have been thinking of apian 
winch I want you to consider well: perhaps it would break 
through Angns's reserve if you were more thrown upon 
him if I were to leave you." 

Mabel started tip with almost a scream "Oh no, no! 
do not leave me; what should I do without you? Prom- 
ise, promise you will not leave me I will not let you move 
till you promise!" 

Lady Grisel was startled by her vehemence so startled, 
that she clasped the poor child in her arms, and could 
only silence her entreaties by making the required, promise. 

" You are foolish, Mabel," she said lovingly. 

"Ah! what could I do without you? You have 
frightened me so much!" and in truth she looked pale 
and tremulous. 

Lady Grisel made her lie down on the sofa, and rang 
for lights, saying, "Now darling, we must have no more 
sad talks; give me a kiss, and dry your eyes, and I will 
open this big box I fancy there is some old lace in this 
one." 

Mabel struggled hard for composure, and succeeded by 
the time the servants came. 



DITA. 125 

There were old silver sconces on the walls, and the wax 
candles in them shed a pretty soft light over the room. 

Lady Grisel looked at her daughter-in-law: it was 
strange how this gentle dependent girl had brought out 
all the unknown depths of tenderness in. her heart. She 
who had been all her life reserved and dignified, now 
coaxed and petted Mabel, with an instinctive feeling that, 
if the warmth of demonstrative love was altogether with- 
drawn from her, she would pine away like a flower for 
want of sun. 

Lady Grisel opened the box. There was a bundle first 
of old brocade, a canary-colored suit with a waistcoat em- 
broidered in silver; then a gown, the waist some four 
inches long; of pink satin, innumerable odds and ends; 
then a magnificent brocaded train, in which the late laird's 
grandmother had been presented to Prince Charles at 
Holy rood. 

Mabel grew quite excited and interested over all these 
treasures. 

Then came a rouge-spot, and an ivory box of mouches, 
and then an old jewel-case of faded red morocco, which 
Lady Grisel put into Mabel's lap. In the first tray was a 
great parure of amethysts, a high comb sparkling with tiny 
brilliants which adorned the setting. 

" Tkis is beautiful!" exclaimed Mabel. "And so is 
this great bracelet of the trois ors. What arms our an- 
cestors must have had!" And she slipped the bracelet off 
and on her arms. 

"I think the lace is underneath," said Lady Grisel; 
and raising the tray, Mabel found a parcel of fine old lace. 

" I shall be able to make you as pretty as a queen when 
you go to Court next year," said Lady Grisel, smiling. 
" I have some diamonds you have never seen, and they 
shall all be reset for you." 

"Oh, might I see them?" asked Mabel, eagerly. 

"When you go to bed, you shall come to my room and 
see them. Now let us see if there is anything in the bot- 
tom of the box." 

They found a number of miniatures carefully wrapped in 
paper. Lady Grisel took them up with a sigh. "I did 
not know that these were here," she said; "I am very 
glad k) have found them again." 

Mabel poured them into her lap. 



126 DITA. 

" Who is this?" she said, holding out one of them a 
badly- painted portrait of a boy of fourteen. 

"That is my eldest son, poor E\van," said Lady Grisel, 
softly. "His father did not think it good, and put it 
away." 

" He must have been very handsome. Who is it this 
reminds me of so much? I cannot remember." 

" He was very handsome: he was six feet two and a half 
in height, and he was wonderfully strong." 

" Was he like Angus?" 

" No, not at all; no one could have told that they were 
brothers. Ewan was a thorough Macmonach." 

"And he was never married," said Mabel, thoughtfully. 
Lady Grisel looked at her inquiringly. 

"No," she said, "he was never married." 

" Was there not some one whom he wished to marry?' 1 
asked Mabel. " 1 asked Angus once, but he was very 
angry." 

" Yes, there was some one." 

"Oh, do tell me about her! I seem to know so little 
about you all; you do not mind, do you?" she said, 
timidly. 

"It is a painful story," said Lady Grisel, "but it is 
right that you should know it. On Ewan's deathbed, 
this young girl whom he loved (her name was Assunta de* 
Caroli) appeared and claimed to be his wife. she had her 
little child with her." 

Mabel looked at Lady Grisel wonderingly. " And was 
she not his wife?" she said. 

"No," said Lady Grisel, slowly, "or Dunmonaigh 
would not have belonged to Angus. After the funeral 
she brought her papers with her, which had been given 
to her by my son, purporting to be her marriage-lines 
and the baptismal register of the child. They were 
opened before witnesses, and proved to be blank papers." 

"Oh, poor, poor girl!" 

" He must have deceived her by a mock marriage," 
said Lady Grisel, with an effort. "I shall never get over 
the pain of that discovery." 

" And where is she now?" 

"Child, you forget how young yon are; all this was 
eighteen years ago, and she died six mouths after Ewan." 



DITA. 127 

" She died of a broken heart?" 

" I think so. She refused all help, and at last when 
actual want was near, her appeal came too late. Master 
Malcolm sought her out, followed her to London, and 
found her in a workhouse dead." 

" What a piteous story!" 

"Put back the miniature, Mabel; telling that story, I 
cannot look at it." 

" What became of the poor little child?" 

" It was adopted by a very good kind couple who had 
no children of their own, but who loved poor little Mar- 
garet most dearly. She will, please God, have a happier 
fate than her mother. They changed their names, and 
we have quite lost sight of them for many years, put it 
away, dear." 

Mabel still held it in her hand. "I see now!" she 
eried, suddenly. 
What is it?" 

'It is quite an extraordinary likeness." 
'To whom?" 

' Perdita Lovel, a friend of mine." 
' What a curious name!" said Lady Q-risel. 
' Her father is quite a character, and has a mania for 
Shakespeare. The likeness is quite odd exactly the 
same brow and short upper lip, and that curl of the lips, 
half proud, half sweet; but there the likeness ends. Dita 
is fairer, and her eyes such a dark brown, that, even in 
spite of her fairness, she has been taken for an Italian. 

Lady Grisel started. " Indeed!" she said. "And what 
are the parents' names? Perdita is such an unusual 
name." 

"Lovel: they are quite nouveaux riches; but Dita is 
not the least like that." 

" I wonder," began Lady Grisel, but checked herself. 
"Is she a great friend of yours?" she asked. 

"Yes; she is so beautiful and charming. They are at 
Bad fold now, with mamma and Mildred, and Mary and 
Dick," she said, with a sigh. 

They put back the miniature in its place, and by the 
time they had examined the whole contents of the box it 
was eleven o'clock, and time to go up stairs. 

They went into Lady Grisel's room that she might ful- 
fill her promise of showing Mabel tne diamonds, 



128 DITA. 

"Which is the room in which poor Ewan died?" said 
Mabel, shuddering. 

"Never mind, child; if you thought of such things, 
every room in every old house would be haunted by the 
past. Look here." 

She opened the door of the old japanned cabinet, and 
drew out the drawers. 

"These are fine stones," she said, putting a riviere 
into Mabel's hands, " but all these others want resetting;" 
and she showed her a number of old-fashioned jewels, 
combs, and long earrings, aud diamond flowers trem- 
bling on gold wires. 

"And you will really have them set for me?" asked 
Mabel, with childish pleasure. 

"Yes, we will make designs for them ourselves, if you 
like. Now go to bed, my child. Good night. God bless 
and keep you." 

And Mabel went away. 

About hc.lf an hour later came a timid little knock at 
the door, and Mabel, as white as her white robes, come in. 
"Oh, may I sleep with you?" said she, entreatingly; " I 
cannot sleep alone I never have slept alone in all my life. 
Milly was always there, for I am so silly and frightened: 
she was much braver." 

"Poor little thing!" said Lady Grisel; "yes, you shall 
sleep with me." 

" I cannot help fancying mine might be the room where 
Ewan died," said Mabel, shivering, " and that his wife 
might come in and upbraid him there." 

Mabel was soon asleep, but Lady Grisel lay long awake, 
thinking sadly. She felt as a gardener might feel who 
had some strange exotic intrusted to his care, and no 
neansof warming and fostering it. She looked down on 
Mabel's sleeping face, with her soft brown hair tossed 
round it, and she heard her murmur in her sleep, " Yes, 
mamma, Milly and I always do." lu her dreams she was 
a child again. 

" Poor wee thing, she is only a child now a little soft 
young thing," she said to herself; "how could her mother 
have sent her away so soon?" 

Far away in Badfeld, Lady Armine was thinking the 
game thing: that she had been wrong in allowing Mabel 



D1TA. 129 

to leave her so soon; and that whatever Lord Armine 
might urge about the ten children, the expensive eldest 
son, and the excellence of a match, should not induce her 
to part with Mildred so soon. But Thomme propose, et 
Dieu dispose. Jack Lee Aston had arrived at Badfeld, 
and, after all, Mildred was far older and more developed 
in mind than her heart's darling Mabel. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

JACK LEE ASTON tapped at one of the windows of the 
Bellevue chalet, and begged for admittance. Mrs. Lovel 
was just making preparations to move, and Jack lent a 
strong arm to help to wheel her out into her customary 
place in the veranda. 

" You have come very early to-day," she said, smiling. 
"Dita has not come back from her German lesson at 
No. 95." 

" I wanted to know whether ) r ou would take tickets for 
the grand concert to-night iii the Kurhaus of the 
Sch \veitzerhof." 

" I had not heard of it; is it to be good?" 

"If half a yard of orange-colored programme signifies 
anything, it will be grand," he answered. "I wish you 
could go yourself," he said, with kind eagerness. " We 
can make it quite easy for you we can have your sofa 
taken there." 

" You are very kind," she said, smiling, and holding 
out her hand; " but now I care for nothing but rest 
;;g peacefully down the river of life." 

"This place will quite set you up again, I hope," he 
said. She gently shook her head. 

" Have you come about the concert?" said Andrew, 
corning in. "I have sent my courier to take places for 
ourselves, so, if you are all going we had better try to sit 
together. Ho\v hot it is!" he said, wiping his brow. 

.\\vfullyhot. I got a note from Lady Norton this 
morning, asking me to go over to Como, but I can't stand 
the heat. If it was not so pleasant here. I would be off 
home again in no time. Ah! there is Dick, couie with a 
message, I have no doubt." 



130 DITA. 

The breathless little boy ran up. 

" Mamma wants to know whether Mrs. Lovel and Dita 
are going to the concert?" he panted; "and oh, Jack, 
there is a snake in the garden such a beauty! and Miss 
Benton won't let me touch it, though it is as dead as dead, 
and I want to put it in a bottle with wine, to keep it," 
ke stopped. 

"I will come and look at it, my boy," said Jack. " So 
you will not come yourself, Mrs. Lovel? If you only knew 
how easy it would be." 

"No, no, my dear, thank you all the same for your 
kind thought. I lie out here quite late these warm nights, 
and you shall all come and tell me about it afterward." 

"Mamma said I was to tell you that she is coming to 
see you in half an hour," said Dick. 

"Very well; now I won't keep you from the snake any 
more." she said, smiling. 

Jack and the child went off to the spot where a poor 
snake had been killed. It was a yard long, bright green 
and white, and about the thickness of a good-sized walk- 
ing-stick. Jack thought him far too much injured for 
preservation; and they walked on to the hotel to see if 
the German lesson was not at an end. 

" Do you see that little beast?" said Dick, pointing to a 
fairy-like little girl about his own age, exquisitely dressed, 
with a tight little waist and flowing sash. "'Would you 
believe it, she is the most cruel little wretch going. I 
have watched her for half an hour together catching one 
butterfly after another, crunching them all up in her horrid 
little hands; and one day she caught oneof those great 
grasshoppers that come bouncing in at night, and she and 
her French nurse stuck a pin through it, and there was 
she, rushing about with it wriggling on a card; but I will 
punish her yet. I got one of mamma's long bonnet-pins 
and a newspaper yesterday, and ran after her and told her 
I was going to pin her down for a little time, but she 
shrieked so frightfully that I was obliged to let her go. 
There, she sees me!" Dick threw np his arms and shouted 
" Icli komme !" and the child fled with a shrill shriek. 

At the sound Lady Armine, who had just appeared at 
the door, hurried toward them. 

" Dick, you are very naughty. I will not hare' that 
child frightened. Fancy!" she said, turning to Jack, "I 



DITA. 131 

had a letter from her mother yesterday, saying that she 
entreated me to control 'Monsieur monfils,' for that her 
little girl had had an ' attaque de nerfs' yesterday from 
something he had said to her. Run in, Dick, and tell 
your sisters to make haste." 

" Are they going out walking now?" 

" Yes; it is very hot, but they are going through the 
trees up to that little chalet to sketch; it is sheltered there 
even at; mid -day." 

"May I go with them?" he said, coaxingly. 

She looked at him a moment, and then smiled. 

" Ought I lee you go with them?" she said. 

" Oh, you have heard from Lord Armine?" he ex- 
claimed. "I see you have; he forbid me to speak to you 
till he had written to you himself." 

" Yes, I have heard from him," she said, witli an irre- 
pressible sigh; " so instead of going with the girls, I want 
you to come and have a talk with me." 

Jack's face beamed with delight. 

"How kind you are!" he exclaimed. 

"There they are! run and tell them that we will come 
and see how they get on with their sketches by-and-by. 
Please, Miss Ben too," she continued, "do not let Mary 
walk too fast. 1 suppose you have an air-cushion? Yes, 
Dick, you may carry it. Good-by." 

Then Lady Armine took Jack's arm, and they walked 
away into the woods. 

Perdita, instead of accompanying the sketching party, 
brought her books and some work and sat in the veranda 
with Mrs. Lovel. She looked very pale and thoughtful 
and slowly drew her needle in and out. 

" My little silent mouse," said Mrs. Lovel, gently, 
" what are you thinking about?" 

"I w;)s thinking of a very odd letter I have had this 
morning from Sir Edward Norton. I think it cannot 
really be meant for me." 

" What an odd thing! let me hear what he says, dear." 

"I will read it to you," said Dita, half-laughing as she 
unfolded it. *' See, there is the address as clear as it can 
be ' Bellevne, Schweitzerhof, Badfeld, Suisse;' there is 
no mistake about that and this is the letter." She 
read 



132 DITA. 

" MT DEAR FRIEITD, Most heartily do I congratulate you on 
your prospects of wealth and power. I rejoice with all my heart. 
She is an old trump. I have still the ' 'ammer, 'ammer, ammer,' 
still the ' 'ard 'iuh road ' we spoke of long ;igo; and when that en- 
trancing short cut appeared 1 found the leap a real ' bullfinch,' and 
my pride too sorry a jade to rise to it. I am better mounted now : 
and a truce to metaphor I have made up my mind to try my luck. 
My dear old friend, wish me God-speed for ' ily va de ma vie.' 

" Yours ever, 

"E. D. NORTON." 

" My dear, it is perfect Greek to me," said Mrs. Lovel, 
laughing. " How very funny! He must have been care- 
less, and put it into the wrong envelope; let me look at 
it. There must be a letter to you in somebody else's 
pocket." 

The color flushed into Dita's face. 

"Probably some messsage from Lady Norton," said 
Mrs. Lovel, quietly. " She said that she had rheumatism 
in her hand last time I saw her, and it may have made it 
difficult for her to write." 

" Very likely," said Perdita. 

At about two o'clock, when it was nearly time for lunch * 
eon, the oleanders were pushed aside, and Jack appeared 
in the veranda. 

" I beg ten thousand pardons, Miss Lovel," he said. 
"I have a letter for you in my pocket, it came directed 
to me, and I only saw the first, ' My dear Miss Lovel,' to 
show me the mistake; and here it is." 

"Ah! then this is for you," said Perdita, producing 
her letter. 

" Oh, thanks; how stupid of Norton!" and glancing at 

it, he said, "I suppose you read it; it is about a 

horse," and he blushed as vivid a blush as her own; they 
both laughed awkwardly. 

" We shall meet at the concert to-night," said Jack; and 
raising his hat he disappeared his light step, his shining 
blue eyes all showed that his suit was prospering. 

Little did Edward Norton imagine the fate of his two 
letters as he restlessly rowed about on the beautiful lake 
of Oomo. The letter to Perdita had taken him hours to 
write and rewrite; that to Jack had been dashed off in 
half a moment. He had felt a need of sympathy and 
knew he should find it there. In his mother he had 



DITA. 133 

found none. From the moment of his telling her the 
true history of Perdita's birth, she and his uncle hail left 
no stone unturned to drive her from his thoughts. For a 
time they succeeded; but the first shock of the announce- 
ment having passed off, his love for the beautiful orphan 
returned tenfold. He would throw reason to the winds: 
he would only promise to wait for three months for their 
Fakes; after that, he would no longer be controlled. The 
three months expired, and the letter was written. He 
was reading it over for the last time, when his mother 
called him; they were waiting for him to go out with 
them. The letter to Jack lay open still; he folded both, 
put them in, his mother called again, hastily sealed 
them, and they went. Lady Norton wisely determined to 
make the best of it. She was very fond of Perdita, and 
under other circumstances nothing could have delighted 
her more; but Mr. Norton went off to England in high 
dudgeon. 

"Eun up stairs and read your letter, my child," said 
Mrs. Lovel, tenderly; "luncheon is never punctual:" and 
Dita flew away. She did not return till Mr. Lovel had 
come in, and luncheon was ready. 

In the aftereoon Nannie went out for the short drive she 
was still able to take with her husband; and Perdita, in- 
stead of joining her young friends, spent the whole after- 
noon in her own little room. She was not alone again 
with her mother till about six o'clock, when Andrew always 
went to the reading-room to look at the papers. Then 
Dita nestled up to her sofa and said 

; 'I want you to read the letter, mammie, and the an- 
fcwer I have written." Siie put both into her hands. 

" You have considered well, and asked for God's help, 
darling, have you?" 

" I think 1 'have done right," she answered, with u littl 
sob. 

Mrs. Lovel opened the letter and read it: 

" MY DEAR Miss LOVEL, I hardly venture to address you with- 
out beginning by saying that, unless circumstances had prevented 
me, 1 should have written this letter long ago. You must have seen 
during that most precious time in which we were so much together, 
that my feelings towaid you had grown far beyond the bounds of 
warmest friendship; now, though months have passed since I have 
seeu you, I am more than ever convinced that the happiness of my 



134 BIT A. 

life lies in your hands, and entirely depends upon your acceptance 
or rejection of my suit. Will you be rny wife, and make me the 
happiest individual on God's earth? Yours most truly, 

"E. D. NORTON. 
" My address will be, ' post restante, Cadenabbia.' " 

" Before you read my answer, mammie," said Perdita, 
laying her hand on her own letter, " listen to me. You 
know that the circumstances to which he alludes are not 
circumstances at all, but feelings. T have interpreted his 
letter to Mr. Lee Aston very clearly, and I know his 
character so well," she said, the tears rising to her eyes. 
"He is so proud that he will find it difficult to realize 
that I can be as proud as he is." 

"Child, child! have you refused him?" 

" Yes, mammie;" and Dita hid her face. 

" Darling, do you know what you are doing? Dita, do 
you love him?" 

" Yes, yes, I do love him, mammie, and he loves me 
loves me so much that he would make what he deems a 
very great sacrifice for me; but I will never* marry him 
never, never!" she eried, with increasing vehemence. 
" No bar-sinister shall ever disgrace his shield." 

" My dear, what do you mean?" 

"Never mind, mammie," she said, smiling drearily. 
"It is better so; I could not leave you, and you cannot 
wisli to send me away. Eead my letter, mammie." 

Mrs. Level took it up, sorely troubled. 

" MY DEAR SIR EDWARD, Forgive me, please forgive me the 
pain I must give you. I cannot be your wife. Try to think of it 
no more. I feel most deeply that you love me so much that you 
would sacrifice yourself for me. I do not accept the sacrifice. I 
will pray for you that you may forget, PEHDITA." 

Mrs. Lovel lay back and shut her eyes; one of her over- 
whelming attacks of palpitation had come on. Perdita, 
pale and dry-eyed, attended to her, administering the 
usual remedies. When she had somewhat recovered she 
bade Dita sit by her again. 

"Darling, you have made up your mind?" she said, 
feebly. 

" Yes, quite, quite, mammie," said Perdita, wistfully. 



DITA. 135 

' I have never asked yon before what was my mother's 
name? and where did you see her first?" 

"I found her, darling, in the workhouse!" 

A sharp shiver passed through the girl's frame. 

"She had become so very poor, and you were so young, 
she thought it better to go there. Her name was Assunta 
de' Caroli; she told me that she was the daughter of an 
Italian, but she spoke English like an Englishwoman;" 
she stopped breathless. 

"Assunta de' Caroli," repeated Perdita, still with her 
face hidden; "and was she like a lady?" 

" Yes, dearie a true, well-born lady. She had large 
brown eyes that shone so wistfully in her white wan face; 
she was very thin, poor little thing, but I could see she 
must have been quite beautiful." 

" And," said Dita, hesitatingly, "did she speak of my 
father? Oh, mammie, do you know his name?" 

" Darling, must you know? His name was Ewau 
Macmonach." 

'' Macmonach! Mammie, mammie!" 

" Yes, dearest; Angus Macmonach's elder brother." 

" Oh, does any one know?" she said, shivering. 

" No, darling, your father took care that no one should 
ever know; perhaps that has been a mistake," she said 
softly to herself. Perdita was sobbing now, and clinging 
closely to her. 

" She gave you to me for my very own," said Nannie, 
tearfully " to be all my own; and she smiled and thanked 
God when she saw you in iny arms. And you have been 
happy, darling, have you not?" 

" Mother! my life has been one long joy." 

" God bless you, child, for saying that; I will tell As- 
sunta soon." 



CHAPTER XXV. 

THE little party of English made their way to the room 
in which the concert was to be held, about half-past eight. 
They had to cross part of the garden, for the large room 
of the Kurhaus was the place chosen for the evening's 
Amusement. 



136 DITA. 

Lady Armine took Dita's arm, and began asking her 
kindly about Nannie, whom she had thought to be look- 
ing rather frail during the last two days. 

Jack and Mildred walked together, and the schoolroom 
party followed. 

The room was half full; the courier had secured two 
rows of seats, rather in the background, where the music 
would be best heard. 

There were several children present, and in one of the 
foremost chairs sat Dick's little foe, Mademoiselle Her- 
mine. 

Dick saw her at once, but his attention was taken up by 
a fat little King Charles, that lay by its mistress, panting 
asthmatically. 

"It is a civil little dog, Milly," he said, in a loud 
whisper, "but it does not speak English; Tcomm liter," he 
added, insinuatingly; but as it only curled up its face, 
and showed its gleaming white teeth, he desisted. 

"It wants to listen to the music. Oh! look, Mary!" 
he cried; "there is the Banshee in a low gown, with bare 
arms; is she going to sing?" 

There was a general hush of expectation, for the Ban- 
shee was a famous pianoforte-player, a professional from 
the concert-rooms of Vienna. 

Her long sonata bored Dick almost beyond endurance. 
It was a little better when a long-haired young German 
tenor sang a plaintive clianson d'amour, it ended grace- 
fully on the minor D, when to every one's horror Made- 
moiselle Hcrmine's voice was raised in a piercing shriek 
on the E flat, and the discord made every well-tuned 
German oar vibrate with agony. 

The child was carried off by her parents, one on each 
side, kissing and addressing her as "Ma cherie, mon 
ange;" "ma is qu'as tu ?" 

Jack bent down to Dick and said severely, " What did 
you do?" 

"I only just held up this," answered Dick, looking un- 
naturally innocent; and he showed his mother's long 
bonnet-pin concealed in his hands. It was of course con- 
fiscated; and a pale German girl, a beginner from the 
Vienna Conservatoire, sang Brahm's lovely " Wiegenlied " 
quite charmingly, and was very much applauded. 

Dita all the time sat listening as if she was in a dream. 



DITA. 13? 

The music seemed to soothe and lull the sort of aching 
feeling the constant excitement of the day had pi'oduced. 
A few whispered words from Lady Armine had told her 
that Mildred's fate was now in her own hands that per- 
mission had been given to Jack to try and win her. 

The thought came flashing across her, did they know 
that, if she had so willed it, she might have been Jack's 
wife now? and she was half amused. Would it have been 
a happy fare? Her heart answered " no/' as distinctly as 
if she could see Edward Norton's dark earnest eyes actual- 
ly present, and the constantly varying expression she knew 
so well. When she thought of the morning's letter, she 
felt she had gained much; she might love him now, she 
might tell herself that no one would ever be to her what he 
had been; she might treasure the knowledge now, locked 
up and kept as a possession for life. It seemed a little 
strange to her to see how quickly Jack had been cured; 
but she felt that Mildred might be well content, for he 
was strong and good and brave, and possessed a manly 
humility and resignation to the inevitable. Yes, Mildred 
would be very happy. 

Mendelssohn's duet from the " Lieder ohne Worte " 
began that lovely speaking and answering of two sad airs 
of which so many interpretations have been made. It 
was beautifully played by the Banshee, so beautifully 
that the audience encored it, and broke the spell. 

"Oh, is it to be all over again?" said Dick, piteou?ly. 
Jack charitably supplied him with a piece of string. 'Die 
last chords were still sounding, when there was a little 
commotion in the crowd gathered round the door, and 
Perdita saw the face of Mrs. Level's maid looking anxious- 
ly in, very pale and disturbed. She jumped up and touched 
Andrew. 

" Daddy, there is Summers; she looks as if she wanted 
us. I am afraid that mother is not so well!" 

"Shall I come with you, dear?" said Lady Armine. 

"Oh, no, thanks; it is very likely nothing worse than 
usual. Please come when the concert is over;" and they 
went hastily away. 

" What is it, Summers?" asked Perdita, as they reach- 
ed the Bellevue; for the maid had run on without wait- 
ing, and met them at the door of Mrs. Level's room. 

" Mrs. Lovel is in a very bad faint, miss," she answer- 



138 D1TA. 

ed. "I sent and asked Dr. Schafhans to come in, and 
ran to fetch you." 

They went in. Nannie was in a death-like fainting fit, 
and nothing seemed to revive her. 

The doctor shook his head gravely when Perdita looked 
at him. "It is the beginning of the end," he said to her 
in German, which Andrew did not understand. Perdita 
felt as if her heait would break, but she was quite calm, 
and set herself to do what the doctor told her. 

After about an hour Nannie opened her eyes with a long 
soft sigh. She was silent, and her eyes wandered from 
one to another with a wondering, scarcely a conscious ex- 
pression. 

" Her strength is at its lowest ebb," whispered the doc- 
tor. "You must try to get it up by every means." 

About half-past ten Lady Armine arrived, and offered 
to stay all night, which they thankfully accepted. The 
doctor desired that Summers should go to bed, that there 
might be one quite fresh in the morning. Andrew seemed 
thoroughly stunned; he said nothing, but sat holding 
Nannie's hand in his, and looking at her without moving, 
and they let him stay. 

Every now and then the deadly faintness came back, 
terrifying the watchers. Perdita felt as if she should not 
have known how to bear it without Lady Armine's calm 
experience and active help, who told her what to do, and 
-who was full of resource. When morning dawned they 
trusted that the worst was over, for Nannie slept. 

Lady Armine and Perdita urged Andrew to follow their 
example and go to bed for a few hours, leaving Summers 
and the doctor both with the patient; and he allowed him- 
self to be persuaded. 

Perdita did not wake till two o'clock, and she found 
Lady Armine already back in the Bellevue. Her ladyship 
would not let her return until she had eaten something, 
and made Mildred see that she did so. 

Nannie's condition appeared to have changed: there 
was a pink flush on her cheeks, and a light in her blue 
eyes, and she seemed to be wandering. It was piteous to 
see how Andrew seemed in that one night to have become 
quite an old man, looking helplessly from Perdita to 
Lady Armine for comfort and encouragement. The doe^-o' 1 
said that nothing more could be done but to watch foi 



DITA. 139 

every change. Her pulse was fast and intermittent, and 
she was not conscious. 

They sat by her all the day, forestalling with strong 
restoratives the tendency to fainting. In the evening 
they were startled by hearing her say, almost in her nat- 
ural voice, " Andy, are you there?" 

"Yes, wife, I am holding your hand." 

" I have asked mother, honey, and she says we may 
walk together after church, and take the children after 
the blackberries: there are so many this year by Good- 
man's stile. Daisy does nothing but low all day, and I 
cannot make her happy; she had better go back to the 
Islands." 

" She is wandering," said Lady Armine, softly. 

"She is living again in the past," said Andrew dream- 
ily. "Nannie, wife, Daisy died long ago." 

"I remember," she said "I was making a cowslip 
ball, for the wine was finished, and mother gave me the 
rest of the flowers, 1 remember Daisy would not touch 
her food, and I gave her the cowslip ball, and she ate 
that," and she laughed faintly. 

" Those were bright days, Nannie," murmured Andrew. 

"It is very pretty, Andy," she went on, her eyes wan- 
dering around. "And it is like you to have filled that 
jug with wallflowers. I shall get used to town after a bit. 
Let me put out mother's loaf, nothing so pure as home- 
make bread in London. 

" You were happy, wife?" 

" Oh yes, I'll be happy after a bit, but it comes strange 
when you've been used to the country; and you'll put up 
with me if I am dazed-like at first?" 

" I was not patient enough, Nannie." 

" Never say that, honey. I am not clever I oan't 
always understand what you say; but you are rarely good 
to me, and I would not have cried over a hasty word if I 
had not been so muddled to-day. I am a silly and igno- 
rant body for you to love, Andy." 

"No, dear, dear, wife." 

Still her fancy went wandering on sometimes she was 
walking in the lanes with her clever young London lover, 
sometimes fretting over the blacks that would sully the 
white curtains she prized. And so for three days it went 



140 DITA. 

on, Andrew always sitting by her, and answering as 
though he shared and followed her thoughts in a very 
strange way. One day was very sad: she thought she 
held her little child in her arms, and rocked it, and spoke 
to it as though it lived, and t-hen held it dead to her 
breast, and fought that they might not take it away; but 
after that it was always the same soft babbling of green 
fields and rural games, and work she repeated simple 
village hymns one after another. 

And there was nothing to be done; nature had broken 
down there was only the waiting till the feeble light 
should flicker out. 

Mildred came one morning to the door of the chalet and 
knocked very softly. Perdita came out, looking very 
worn and pale. 

" I have called to say that mamma is coming, and she 
wishes you to come out for a little while with me, Dita," 
she said, kissing her affectionately. 

" I will come; mother is very quiet now, and Summers 
is with her. Thank you, dear Milly, it will do me good." 

She went for her hat, and they walked together up 
into the wood, and sat down on a bench. It was very 
hot, but a gentle breeze pluyed among the trees, and 
brought a sweet scent of syringa on the air. 

A memory of what seemed long ago flushed across Dita, 
and she looked round at her companion. Mildred's grave 
sweet face was full of thought. 

" Dear Mildred," said Dita, softly, " is all settled now?" 

"I did not like to disturb you with my happiness," 
she answered, kissing her. 

" I am so glad, so very glad." said Perdita. " You will 
be very happy, Milly; and I " 

The words escaped involuntarily, but Mildred did not 
hear them. 

The two girls wandered on; the wood was alive with 
insect-life; the birds sang, the grass-hoppers kept up their 
merry chirp. They stood for a moment over a tiny pond, 
half choked with its growth of tangled water-lilies: the 
frogs croaked hoarsely; and great dragon-flies whirred 
past, their steel-like bodies gleaming in the sun. 

Then Perdita turned from this world of light and love, 
and went back to the monotonous pain of watching that 
life, so dearly loved, wane slow' 



DITA. 141 

Night came, and Nannie's voice ceased, and she be- 
came very still. 

Lady Armine, very tired, had gone home to rest, leav- 
ing Perdita and Andrew that night-watch. For the last 
two nights Andrew had refused to leave his wife. 

Eleven o'clock struck twelve and she still seemed to 
sleep. The lamp was burning very low, and Dita went 
softly to trim it. 

There was a slight movement; Nannie's white hand, 
groping outside the sheets till it met Andrew's, and there 
rested. Presently she spoke, and her faint whisper sounded 
clearly "Andy, some one told me that there were crim- 
son oleanders on the shores of the lake of Gennesaret, 
where the Saviour is waiting to heal the sick. The son 
is setting, and he bids me go to Him walking on the 
water; it is so blue, and it seems as if 1 must sink; but 
He is calling me, and I must go." 

"Nannie wife!" cried Andrew, " wait for me! a little 
while!" 

" I cannot wait," she said, slowly; " I see Him on the 
shore, and voices are bidding me come. Good-by, koney 
good-by!" 

Perdita and Andrew bent over her in terror. She mur- 
mured something about the beautiful crimson flowers 
then suddenly a light came into her eyes, as of a flash of 
returning consciousness. Her voice was very feeble now. 

"Andrew, sweetheart, I am going fast." 

" Nannie, darling Nannie, have pity! do not go." 

'' Kiss me, Dita, darling! Go leave me with him 
now." 

Solemnly Perdita bent down, and gave a long still kiss, 
then she stole away. 

"Open the window, Andy," gasped the dying woman. 
" Give me light and air!" 

He rose to his feet, and drew up the wooden blinds; a 
pale light, half from the moor., half from the first tinge 
of daylight, stole into the room, 

" Andy," she said, her words coming slowly, <( it is hard 
to part."" 

"I cannot let you go," he moaned. 

"Nothing but death could part us two, Andy." She 
put her feeble hand on his bowed neck, "hold me in 



142 DITA. 

your arms there, closely, closer still; raise me. We are 
together still. Look out there, when all is over, you will 
see the sun rise up again, and the world go on as if I was 
with you with you still." 

''And I, Nannie! I?" 

" Come soon." 

The pale light flooded into the room, the night-lamp 
flickered up and went out suddenly, and there was perfect 
silence. 

Perdita had awakened Summers, and they had sent for 
the doctor, for her heart told her that the end was near; 
and when they heard no sound, they waited a while, and 
then went in. 

All was dim, and the doctor hastily stepped back and 
brought a light; Nannie was lying with her sweet face 
looking toward the window, and Andrew with his arms 
still round her, as he had laid her down, and his head was 
buried on the pillow. 

He rose up when they spoke to him, with a smile on 
his face, and let Perdita take his hand. 

" She has gone before," he said, "but only for a little 
while." And she led him away. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

THEY were dreary, miserable days that followed. Lady 
Arrnine was very anxious to get back to England, for her 
husband kept writing to press for her return, and Mary's 
term of eighteen baths was accomplished; but she would 
not leave Perdita till all the arrangements were over, and 
news had come that the sad, unattended funeral had taken 
place at Sal ford. 

Mr. Lovel was in no condition to travel quickly, and 
Dr. Schafhaus strongly urged that he should not be dis- 
turbed in. any way until he had somewhat recovered from 
the stupor into which he seemed to have sunk. It was 
Jack who made every arrangement, *-to whom Perdita 
appealed for help as she would have clone to a brother. 

Jaques was traveling in Spain, and it seemed probable 
that the letters were following him from place to place. 

Lady Armine was consoled in leaving Perdita by her 



DITA. . 143 

assurance that he would come to Badfeld the very moment 
he heard of what had happened. 

Dita drove down to the station to see them off, and on 
the way she could hardly suppress her tears. They had 
nearly half an hour to wait in the new, highly-varnished 
mile cV attente, and she felb as if every moment were a 
reprieve. Lady Armine made her promise to write often, 
and to let them know her plans, and how poor Andrew 
went on; and the three girls kissed and embraced each 
other warmly. 

The little tinkling bell began at last, and the large 
German train rolled into the station. 

"I have never thanked you, I have not known how to 
thank you," said Perdita, as Lady Armine pressed her in 
her arms. 

"God bless you, my dear child. Good-by." 

They were hurried off to take their places, and she 
could no longer see Jack waving his hat out of the window. 
Then she went sadly back to the chalet. 

Andrew was always sitting in the veranda among the 
oleanders. Perdita used to light his little carved pipe 
and give it to him, but it always went out and he laid it 
down. She was frightened at his apathy, and longed 
eagerly for Jaques to come. 

Then about the end of August the weather changed. 
One night Perdita was awakened by the roar of the wind 
which came rushing through the valley: it was so Avild and 
loud that she rose up and stole into Andrew's room to seo 
if he also was awake. No, he was sleeping heavily with- 
out movement; and she went back to her room and with 
some difficulty succeeded in closing the shutters firmly. 

The next morning the valley was full of clouds which 
lay in white solid masses along the sides of the hills, and 
the trees were bending almost double in the storm. All 
the gay ly- dressed people disappeared from garden and 
balconies, the band sounded faintly from within the Kur- 
hans, and the shattered flowers of the oleanders strewed 
the walks. 

Andrew was driven indoors, and sat bending over his 
desk, vainly trying to write letters. 

For two days the wind blew and the valley was thick 
with clouds, then it went down suddenly, and a thick 
pelting rain began to fall incessantly. They were chilled 



DITA. 

with the damp; and Budfeld was so completely a snmmef 
place, that there were no means of warming the rooms. 

Ac last Andrew, to Dita's great delight, said that he 
wished to go home. The very fact of his expressing a 
wish was something gained. Jaques had not been heard 
of, but Dita knew that he often traveled without leaving 
his address, and though distressed she was not surprised. 
She made every arrangement; and on one day, still more 
wet and dreary than usual, they bade adieu to Badfeld, 
and started on their long journey to Bale. 

Dita felt her spirits rise as they emerged from the valley 
into the open country, gradually, as they left the mountains 
behind them, getting into finer weather. They did nob 
reach Bale till night, and Andrew was so tired and worn 
out that Dita was afraid to push on their journey as she 
had intended, and devised with the courier a route by 
which they would best shorten the travel i.ig for each day. 
The first day to Troyes, the second to Sens, the third to 
Paris. 

They reached Troyes late on Saturday night, and An- 
drew went at once to bed. Dita hoped that by resting 
there on Sunday he would be able to go ou Monday, but 
she was disappointed. The next morning he was unable 
to rise from his bed, and suffered from violent pains in 
the head and limbs. The hotel was but an old-fashioned 
inn, the up-stairs rooms opening into an open-air gallery 
on wooden pillars which ran all round the little square 
court-yard. The rooms were quiet and clean, but very few 
travelers seemed to pass through Troyes: and Dita felt it 
would be terribly lonely if Andrew's indisposition increas- 
ed to a severe illness. 

She sent for the doctor, who had nothing to recommend 
but a soothing ptisa ne and patience. And she could only 
sit by Andrew, bathing his brow, and soothing him, and 
feeling very helpless and disconsolate. 

On the Saturday afternoon, two days after the Levels had 
left Badfeld, Sir Edward Norton arrived there with Lady 
Norton and Miss Grey. They had Ivard from Jack Lee 
Aston of poor Nannie's death, and Lady Norton had com 
to Badfeld full of kind intentions toward Perdita; and 
they were all disappointed to find that they had gone. Dr. 
Schafhaus told them that he thought they would go very 
slowly home, for that Mr. Lovel was in a very low, weak 



DITA. 145 

state. And in hope of overtaking them, they pursued 
their journey to Bale. 

Sir Edward found out privately from the hotel manager 
that theLovels had gone on to Troves; and as his mother 
and cousin wished to see the sights of Bale he professed an 
extreme desire to visit the old churches at Troves and 
went off by himself, and promising to rejoin them at Paris 
or at Pontainebleaiij which they had also wished to in- 
clude in their tour. 

He traveled all Monday afternoon, and arrived at the 
hotel, walking from the station with a porter to carry his 
portmanteau. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and as 
lie came into the little court-yard, he found all the serv- 
ants of the inn sitting round a table eating a savory potage 
aux croutons. 

He began by asking for a room, and was taken into the 
open galfery up stairs by the fussy landlady, who never 
ceased talking. She showed him a large room with a 
slippery waxed floor, where he deposited his luggage. 

" Yes, there were some English here," the landlady in- 
formed him; "an old gentleman who was ill, and his 
daughter. They had arrived on the Saturday, and were 
to have proceeded on Monday, but he was not well enough 
to go." 

Sir Edward sent away his hostess. It was too late to 
disturb the Lovels that night, being nearly ten o'clock; so 
he lit a cigar and sat out on the gallery looking down into 
the court. The servants had finished their supper and 
withdrawn; the moon shone down from a clear purple sky, 
tin-owing the old wooden staircase and balconies into strong 
and picturesque relief. In the court below a white cat 
glided across, her velvet paws making not the slightest 
sound; far away in the street, a workman going home 
sang a gay little song to his lady-love. Sir Edward leant 
his head on his hand, and felt the profound silence as an 
infinite rest. 

Presently one of the doors opened, and lie saw some one 
come out and advance slowly toward him. An instinct 
told him who it was before he even saw the slender figure, 
the fair head drooping with sad dejection. 

He rose to his feet and to?sed away his cigar. Dita 
started when she saw him and would have passed on, but 
he moved a step forward. 



146 DITA. 

"It is I, Miss Lovel; do you not know me-?*' 

She drew back a step, putting her hand to her brow, and 
then held it out to him tremblingly. 

"You, you here!" The impulse was almost irresist- 
ible to rush forward to try to comfort her, to pour out his 
story of love, but he controlled himself with an effort. 

"I wish, I do so wish to be of service to you, if only 
you will let me. I have come to " 

Dita withdrew her hand. 

"No, no, Miss Lovel; dear Dita, do not be afraid I 
will say nothing about that, I will forget it; think of 
nothing to distress you. 1 promise, you must let me 
help you as I would a sister. Oh Dita!" 

For she leant one hand on the balustrade, and covering 
her face with the other, could not restrain her tears. With 
a rigid resolve to be fraternal paternal even he made 
her sit down on his chair, and half sitting on the balus- 
trade himself, waited until she had dried her eyes. 

" It is such a relief to see you," she said- 

"Ah, you have no one with you! poor Dita!" 

The courier left us this morning," said Dita, raising 
her eyes and trying to smile. "He would have Missed 
an engagement he had made for a very long journey if I 
had kept him any longer, and of course I could not de- 
tain him against his will." 

"The brute! He was bound to stay. I will see that 
he does not escape for such a breach of engagement. 
Have you no one else?" 

" Only our maid Summers: she is a great comfort, but 
she cannot speak a word of French. I cannot tell you 
tho relief of seeing some one whom I know." 

"And where is Caliban? What does he live for, but to 
be of use to you?" 

" His letters have not reached him I suppose, for I 
have not heard a word from him. I wished he had come 
abroad with us." 

" Tell me about your father, is he really very ill?" 

" I don't understand his condition. Oh, if I only had 
Dr. Grant here for five minutes! The doctor here says 
that he must on no account move at least for three 
weeks." 

" I will see about that to-morrow." 

" Oh, thank you tbank you for coming!" 



DITA. 147 

"I would do anything," he began, but abruptly left 
ff. 

" Good night," said Dita, rising. " It is very late, and 
I was going to bed." 

"So soon! could you not wait a little longer?" 

"I was up all last night," said Dita wearily, "and I 
would talk to you if I could, but I cannot hold up my 
head." 

"Poor little Dita," he said, in a tone of inexpressible 
tenderness. "Then go to bed. Tell me, ought any one 
to sit up with your father to-night?" 

"Summers is there," she said, dreamily. He put her 
candle into her hand, and saw her go down the gallery to 
the door of her own room. Then he lit another cigar, and 
walked out into the moonlit town. 

Dita was so worn out, that she was asleep before her 
head touched the pillow. 

The next morning she was only roused by her maid, 
who came in with a cup of coffee; she brought a message 
from Sir Edward, begging her not to get up, and saying 
that he had given Mr. Lovel his breakfast, and would see 
the doctor and receive his orders. Dita turned her head, 
and witli a delicious feeling of security, was asleep again 
before her maid had left the room. 

About two o'clock she came down with a guilty feeling 
that she had been neglecting her duty, and hurried to 
Mr. Level's room. He was out of bed and sitting propped 
up by pillows in a large armchair, Edward Xorton beside 
him, reading aloud an English newspaper. 

There was a more lifelike and less painful expression 
on the old man's face than it had worn since the death of 
his wife, and he looked up and actually smiled as Dita 
came in. 

"You have had a long rest, my love," he said, "and 
you look the better for it." 

Edward, looking at Dita, thought she must have looked 
ill indeed if this was better; his heart ached to see how 
pale and thin she was, and how large her dark eyes had 
gro\vn during those few weeks. 

" I know something of doctoring, Miss Lovel," said he 
"gained during the time that I have been knocking 
about in the world, and I hope you will approve of my 



148 DITA. 

change of treatment. I gave your father a beefsteak for 
breakfast." 

Dita looked horrified. 

"1 think it lias done me good, dear," said Andrew, 
feebly; " I was so tired of beef- tea." 

"And this afternoon we will get him out a little way," 
said Sir Edward, cheerily; "I have got a very decent 
voiinre dc rcmixc, and the air is delicious to-day." 

Dita could see that Andrew was better for the change 
of treatment, and she resolved to trust Edward implicitly. 

Luncheon came for Andrew; delicate soup made with 
Summer's best skill; but Sir Edward insisted upon taking 
him up a wing of chicken from their dinner down stairs, 
and sending away the omelet. 

He helped him tenderly into the carriage, and propped 
him up with cushions, bidding the coachman drive very 
steadily. 

They went to the old cathedral, and Dita and Sir Ed- 
ward got out to see it, leaving Andrew lying back quietly 
in the carriage enjoying the sweet fresh air. 

In the evening the doctor called, and was quite aston- 
ished at the improvement of pulse and general appearance 
in his patient. Sir Edward insisted on a private interview, 
and ascertained that what he suspected was true that 
Andrew was suffering from complete nervous prostration, 
misunderstood by Dr. Sbafhaus, who had allowed his 
strength to run down very low, by keeping him on an in- 
valid diet. 

It seemed very hard to take away this English milord, 
this layer of golden eggs, from the little old doctor; but 
he acknowledged, when pressed, that there was no real 
need to delay going homeward by short stages. Dita 
could scarcely believe the good tidings. 

Next day came a letter from Lady Norton, from Eon- 
tainebleau; she had gone there with Miss Grey, and wrote 
a most alluring account of the delightful rooms they had 
engaged on the ground-floor, opening on to a pretty gar- 
den. They had had one drive in the forest, which was 
enchanting. " If yon have found Mr. Lovel and Dita," 
wrote Lady Norton, "do persuade them to come here and 
stay with us for a week or two. I will take great care of 
Mr. Lovel, and we will try amongst us to make them 
happy." 



DITA. 140 

Edward read this part of bis letter to Dita. She was 
very much tempted by the idea. Andrew had a great 
dread of returning borne, and she longed for him Fo be 
stronger before be should have to pass through that ordeal, 
lie also caught at the idea; so they moved to Sens, and 
from thence an hour's journey took them to Fontaine- 
blean. 

Lndy Norton had engaged rooms as pleasant as her own 
for their reception, and she was there waiting, with an 
English tea spread out; and she welcomed Dita with a 
warm, motherly kiss, and petted her, and looked after 
her with the greatest care. 

After they had been settled there for about three days, 
Edward Norton came into their sitting-room. 

" I have come to say good-by, Miss Lovel." 

"Good -by," she faltered. 

"Yes, I am off to London; I did not tell you before. I 
am going to my chambers. I have my fortune to make." 
He tried to speak lightly. 

Their hands met in one short grasp. Dita could not 
speak, but she raised her eyes and saw that his were look- 
ing down on her full of tears. 

He was gone, and Dita sat down, feeling as if she were 
alone in the whole wide world. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

" ANGUS is going up to the moors, to-day," said Mabel 
Maemonach, coming into the turret-room where Lady 
Grisel was sitting. 

" Is he? Has lie asked any one to go with him?" 

" He has asked Craigenlowe to join him with his new 
dogs, the keepers have seen a great stag at the foot of 
Benichon." 

" Then we must amuse ourselves, Mabel. Shall we go 
up to see some poor people this morning, or make one of 
the men row us about on the lake?" 

"I am tired," said Mabel, plaintively; "and I want to 
Avrite a long letter to Mildred; would you mind not going 
out till this afternoon?" 

"I will go myself up to the farm," answered Lady 



150 DITA. 

Grisel, " for I hear that one of the twins is ill; but I shall 
not be long away, and you will be able to get through 
your letter without interruption." 

"I have had such a happy letter from Milly," said 
Mabel, smiling; " she thinks no one in the world like her 
Jack." 

" You like him very much, do you not?" 

" He was a very nice, merry creature," said Mabel. 
"Not clever. I don't think him worthy of Mildred; bub 
then no one can be worthy of her/'' she added, with all 
the partiality of a sister. 

" I think all you tell me sounds very nice and happy." 
said Lady Grisel. "Does she tell you any plans yet, and 
where they are to live?" 

" Yes; she tells me all about it," answered Mabel, be- 
ginning to arrange her writing materials. " They are to 
have a little house in London, somewhere in the South 
Kensington region, that is to be their home; but they 
are to be a great deal with Miss Ash burn, who, although 
she is so deaf, is a very dear old lady, and is quite de- 
lighted, Milly says, that Jack is going to be married." 

" Where does she live?" 

"About twelve miles from the Lee Astons. Mamma 
and Milly are going there for her to make acquaintance 
with Miss Ashburn. Thev will be neighbors to Salford 
Abbey." 

" Who lives at Salford Abbey?" said Lady Grisel, smil- 
ing. 

" The Lovels, pretty Perdita Lovel whom I have told 
you about." 

" Ah, poor girl! I wonder how she is getting on since 
your mother left her! It must have been a wonderful 
comfort to her having Lady Armine there." 

"Yes, indeed," said Mabel. "I must think of my 
wedding present for Mildred," she began. "I cannot 
make up my mind whether it shall be something very 
lovely for her house or an ornament. I suppose the house 
will be of most consequence, as she will be poor at first." 

"Yes; but they will not always be poor, and an orna- 
ment lasts for ever." 

"I am glad you think so," said Mabel, joyfully; " it is 
a much more interesting present." 



DITA. 151 

Angus came in equipped for deer-stalking. 

" Yon will be sure to send tny letters to the post, 
Mabel," he said, in his measured tones. 

" Yes, Angus, I shall not forget." 

"Craigenlowe will sleep here to-night, in all probabil- 
ity, so be prepared. Good-by." 

Lady Grisel and Mabel went out to the door to see them 
start. Mabel had a childish personal affection for all sorts 
of animals. She sat down on the steps while Angus was 
speaking to one of the keepers, and the dogs all came 
pressing round her, licking her bauds and fawning on her, 
straining against their coupling. 

" How can you let them lick you?" said Angus; but 
Mabel scarcely heard, for she had pushed away the dogs 
and was petting and caressing the thick-maned ponies. 

"Where does Craigenlowe meet you?" asked Lady 
Grisel, shading her eyes from the sun, and looking away 
over the hills toward beautiful Benichon. 

"At the burn. Now then." They whistled off the 
dogs and started. One of Mabel's favorites lingered be- 
hind, pressing up to her; Angus's whistle summoned him, 
and as he obeyed the call he was greeted by a sharp lash 
for loitering. She could not suppress a bitter little sigh as 
she turned into the house. 

" Good-by, my child," said Lady Grisel, looking in with 
her out-of-door apparel on. Mabel was sitting at her 
desk, already intent upon her letter. "I shall not be 
very long. Good-by." 

Mabel put down her pen and came up to Lady Grisel 
to be kissed. 

"Give my love to Mildred," she said. "And, Mabel, 
you shall, if you like, search through all my old jewels to 
find something lovely for me to give to her." 

"Thank you, you dearest and best of mothers," cried 
Mabel. She had never called her that before, and Lady 
Grisel went away with her heart full of loving tenderness 
toward her. 

Mabel wrote on. The second full sheet was finished, 
and she had just begun a third, when a servant brought 
in a little screwcd-up piece of paper. 

" From Dunmonnigh, if you please, ma'am," he said 
Willie was not to wait for an answer," 



152 DITA. 

Mabel opened it, and a key fell out; she read these 
lines written inside an old envelope 

"I forgot that I had left a most important letter in my desk, 
directed to A. Smith, Esq., etc.; it is necessary that it should be 
sent off to day. Please open my desk and you will find it ready 
sealed and stamped in the right-hand middle drawer: I send you 
the key." 

The post did not go till one o'clock, so Mabel, in no 
hurry, finished and fastened up her letter, and she took 
up the key and went with it to Angus's room. 

Her husband's sitting-room was very little known to the 
young wife. Very early in their married life, she had 
found out that she was not welcome there. AYhenever she 
went in, he ceased any occupation on which he might be 
employed, and contrived to make her feel as if she wa. a 
visitor and an interruption to him; and as he did almost 
all his morning work there, she saw very little of him, 
and was too timid to attempt more. 

It was a large, comfortable room, well filled with books, 
and with useful maps and papers. The bureau, which 
Angus always kept carefully locked, stood close to the 
fireplace; for he was of a very chilly nature, and often 
had fires burning when other people could not have borne 
them. The room had a northern aspect, and overhung 
the end of the loch. 

Mabel, with the key in her hand, went up to the bureau, 
and, sitting down before it, unlocked it. The lid (it was 
a large, round-topped secretaire) was heavy, but she suc- 
ceeded in pushing it open. She opened the drawer that 
Angus had mentioned, but to her surprise, for he was 
very accurate, the letter was not there, and she proceeded 
with her search. The drawers were all set round an arch 
in the center of the bureau, with tiny ivory pillars and a 
little floor of ebony and ivory diapers. There she saw 
what was evidently the letter of which she was in search 
on the little floor, held down by an exceedingly heavy 
brass paper-weight. She took hold of it eagerly, she was 
so anxious to execute well this little commission her hus- 
band had given her. 

Mabel had not calculated on the weight of the brass 
ornament; it slipped from her hand and fell with violence 
on to the ivory work. One of the little pillars was pushed 



DITA. 153 

back, evidently by the jar given to some strong spring, 
and under her very hand a secret drawer sprang out. 

Mabel was much startled; the drawer was full of papers, 
and she was about to shut it hastily when her eye was at- 
tracted by one word, and she opened and read them. 

Presently the bell of Angus's room pealed violently 
through the house. The butler, astonished at so unusual 
a sound, ran hastily to answer it. 

Mabel was standing in front of the desk looking quite 
awful, as he expressed it afterward, her eyes wide dis- 
tended and staring, her face blanched to a deadly white- 
ness. 

" Lady Grisel, send Lady Grisel," she gasped. 

Lady Grisel was just coming home from her walk, 
when she was met by the man running to meet her with 
a scared face. She did not wait till his story was over, 
but rushed into her son's room. 

She found Mabel lying insensible on the ground, and 
strewn all over her the papers. 

Lady Grisel caught them up in deadly terror: there was 
no mistaking their meaning; they were Ewan and As- 
sunta's marriage certificates. 

Before that night telegrams were speeding over the 
country: to Edinburgh for doctors; to Lady Armine, 
summoning her to come without a moment's delay. 

All through the night there was running to and fro, 
and whispering and agonized prayers. Before the first 
blue light of morning paled the sky. a son was born to 
Dunmouaigh, and mother and child lay dead. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

LADY GRISEL came slowly into Angus's room; be sat 
before a table with his face hidden on his arms. She 
stood for one moment looking down on him unable to 
speak. He looked up at last with haggard eyes; she held 
the fatal papers in her hands. 

"Tell me,'' he burst out, "mother, was it that that 
did it?" 

" Yes," answered Lady Grisel, stonily. " First Assuuta, 
now MabeJ. " 



154 DITA. 

"And what do you mean to do now?" he said, as she 
sunk down on a chair. 

"Justice!" 

She heard his long-drawn breath, as if he were panting 
hard. 

" You do not know what the temptation was," he said. 
"There were no other proofs, no witnesses. Others have 
survived such things, why not she? And you see I never 
destroyed them?" 

" Angus, spare me that; the disgrace has killed your 
wife." 

" Do not speak like that," he said, almost savagely: 
"you will drive me more mad than I am already." 

" Then spare me your excuses." 

"Mother, you are as hard as stone." 

She made no answer. It was a strange scene in the 
early morning light: Lady Grisel pale and rigid, with a 
look of concentrated agony in her face, Angus pacing the 
room in his mud-spattered shooting- dress, as he had come 
in the evening before. At last he said, slowly, " What 
can I do?" 

"Justice!" she repeated. 

"To whom?" 

" To Ewan's child.'' 

"Does she still live?" 

" We will move heaven and earth to find her, that you 
may atone for your sin." 

"And have you thought of me, mother?" he said, 
clinching his teeth together. " Am I not also your son? 
Do you know to what you would condemn me?" 

" God help me," she answered, her head sinking on her 
breast. 

"I will not stay," he cried. "I have incurred the 
penalty of the law; the law will make me a beggar; the 
law will brand me as a felon a felon! Do you hear?" 

Her hands wrung together. 

" So I shall go," he said, " that you may not have a 
felon for your son. You shall never see me more." 

" Angus!" 

" Do not try to stop me, mother," lie cried, "or I shall 
go quite mad] Mabel! my Mabel! my pretty Mabel! I 
have a fire raging here," and he pressed his brow; "I can 



DITA. 155 

gee nothing bat her eyes upbraiding me. Good God! I 
must go." 

" You shall, Angus. It will be better so; but not now. 
You cannot leave her so." 

" Say what you will, mother; that the papers have been 
found. Save the honor of the old name if you can. I 
will never come home to disgrace you." 

Lady Griscl thought for one moment, and it seemed to 
her that it might be best that he should go. She was ter- 
rified at the wild bloodshot eyes and twitching hands. 

"Angus!" she cried "not to-night. Can you not 
stay and see her mother?" 

Aery, strange and low, like the cry of some hunted ani- 
mal, broke from his lips. 

" Her mother!" he cried; " how can I meet her? How 
have I kept my trust?" 

" Mabel loved you," she said, faintly, hoping to touch 
some softening chord: "she loved you, Angus." 

" And I have killed her. Let me go." 

He sprang toward the door; then suddenly coming back, 
lie said, " I will write to you from London. I shall wait 
there till the child is found, but I will never come home." 

" Will you not look at her once more, Angus? She 
looks very beautiful; she forgave you and loved you; your 
name was the last on her lips. Oh, my boy, do not go 
like this!" 

" I cannot. You are cruel, mother you torture me." 

She clung passionately to him. 

"Angus! you whom I have loved beyond all others in 
this cruel world! you for whom I would have died, listen 
to me!'' 

" Oh, mother, mother!" 

"I forgive you! Mabel has forgiven you, Angus 
make Ewan's child forgive you in his name and his wife's; 
then down on your knees and pray, and wrestle for a 
blessing, and in God's own time He will also forgive my 
son!" 

" I will, God help me; let me go." 

He crossed the hall, drew back the bolts, and went 
down upon the steps.- She stood watching him as he un- 
did the boat and stepped into it, her hands clasped in tear- 
less agony. 



156 DITA. 

" One last good-by," she said, stretching out her arms 
toward him. 

" No, no! I am not worthy f be answered. 

He drew himself from her clinging arms, she saw him 
bending to the oars, and the little boat speeding across the 
water. 

Long white streaks shone in the sky, brightening and 
brightening till they suddenly gleamed down like blades 
of shining steel athwart the loch, and the sun rose up, 
cold and white and brilliant. 

Lady Grisel shivered, and the bitter cold of early morn- 
ing chilled her through and through; she turned and went 
to Mabel's room and knelt down by her side. 

Mabel was beautiful in death, she had smiled when they 
laid her baby in her arms, and the smile had rested there; 
all that might have been of grief and agony could never 
touch her now; and Lady Grisel kneeling by her, could 
only utter again and again, "Thank Gol, oh thank God, 
that He has taken her home!" 

About eleven o'clock that night poor Lady Armine 
arrived. Lady Grisel met her at the door, and her face 
told the tale her dry lips could not utter. Too late. The 
mother's grief at first was overwhelming. She had loved 
Mabel even more than her other children; there had 
always been something so clinging, so dependent about 
the child, that she had been their veriest darling. 

Lady Grisel told the whole story without omitting one 
fact or making one excuse. It came from her lips as if 
wrung from her by the torture of the rack, but she told 
it all. She braced herself to bear the reproaches, the 
hard words she awaited, and she would have borne them 
all and thought that little; but instead of that, Lady 
Armine threw her kind arms round her neck, saying 

"Ah, Grisel, how much we both have suffered!" 

Then came to her the relief of passionate tears. Lady 
Grisel felt drawn inexpressibly to her, and she poured out 
to her how dearly she had loved Mabel, how hard she 
had striven to make her happy; and then all her terror 
and anguish over Angus came out, and the old story of 
having misunderstood and thwarted Ewan. 

"I have ruined my sons!" she cried, in the strong self- 
abasement of a proud nature brought low; and Lady 



DITA. 15? 

Armine found her oivn best comfort in trying to sustain 
her fellow-sufferer. 

Toward the evening of the following day Lord Armine 
and Mildred arrived; and all had to be goue over again. 

Whon night came they were all worn out, and all went 
to rest but Lady Grisel. She could not sleep; in vain she 
closed her eyes and tried to lull her aching thoughts. 
She could not rest: she wandered among the empty rooms 
down stairs; she took up the book Mabel was reading, 
the drawing on which she had been intent only two days 
ago; she found her long letter to Mildred on her desk, 
the half- finished designs for the setting of the diamonds, 
in which she had taken such a childish delight, all just 
as it had been, and at last tears came to her relief. 

The nest morning she had a long interview with Lord 
Armine. He strongly advised that no unnecessary mys- 
tery should be made, that the world should be told that 
the marriage of Ewan Macmonach had been proved by 
the finding of the necessary papers, and that Angus, glad 
to have something to do in the first agony of his bereave- 
ment, had gone away to look for the lost heir. As soon 
as the funeral should be over, they must at once take 
steps to make restitution to Ewan's child. 

Lord Armine went up to the manse to see and talk over 
matters with the old Minister. 

Master Malcolm was terribly shaken and distressed by 
all that had happened. He seemed so feeble and old, that 
at first Lord Armine thought that he would be of no use; 
but his memory was clear when he had recovered suf- 
ficiently to collect his thoughts, and he supplied him with 
dates and names, and the address of the old shop in Edgar 
Street, Soho. He considered it sufficient ground to work 
upon. 

The sad day came at last, the funeral of the bride 
who had come to Dunmonaigh but one year ago. All the 
people iti the country-side thronged together, and many 
eyes were wet with tears, and there were wondering mui- 
murs at the absence of Angus Macmonach. 

Two days after, Lady Grisel allowed herself to be per- 
suaded to accompany the Armines to London, whither 
Lord Armine wished to return. Her silver-gray hair had 
grown as white as snow. 



158 DITA. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

LA.DY NOBTOX and the Levels lingered on at Fontaine- 
bleau. The weather was charming with all the fresh 
sweetness of the air of France, and Andrew daily gained 
strength. Jaques joined them for a few days, and to 
talk to him seemed to do the old man real and lasting 
good. Poor Jaques! always covering strong feelings with 
uncouth reserve, no one knew how he missed the ever- 
ready sympathy poor Nannie had always given him. He 
devoted himself to Andrew with a touching devotion, 
obeying and forestalling his every wish. It was a great 
grief to him that he had been unable to obey Perdita's 
summons to Badfeld; but be had been wandering in 
Spain in pursuit of old Spanish specimens of bookbind- 
ing, and his estimate of Bis own importance was so very 
low that he seldom left his address. Jaques was obliged 
to return to England after a very few days at Fontaine- 
bleau, for all Andrew's affairs bad long been under his 
superintendence, and they required his presence. 

Perdita made friends with Miss Grey, a gentle delicate 
girl of rather a sentimental low-pitched tone of mind, 
that suited just now with Perdita's feelings; and they 
enjoyed long rambles in the forest, and sitting in their 
little garden in the warm air. 

To every one's surprise, one day Jaques suddenly reap- 
peared; he looked anxious and distrait, and demanded to 
see Mr. Lovel alone. The two girls went out into the 
garden, and Jaques sat down by the old man, who was 
somewhat tremulous and nervous, at the suddenness of his 
arrival. 

Jaques with some solemnity unfolded a "Times" which 
he took from his traveling-bag, and laying it on the table 
said 

" I believe this advertisement has reference to us." 

Andrew took up the paper, but his hand shook. 

" Read it, Jaques," he said; and Jaques read, while a 
choking feeling in his throat made his voice sound strange 
and harsh. 

" Andrew Fairdon, once bookseller iti Edgar Street, 



DITA. 159 

Soho, and Anne his wife, are requested to communicate 
with Messrs. Short, Browning & Short, of Lincoln's Inn. 
Circumstances relating to the birth of their adopted child 
will prove, on application to above, greatly to her advan- 
tage." 

Jaques laid the paper down. Andrew covered his face 
with his hands. 

" I am to lose the child," he said, in a weak, broken 
voice. 

" No, nothing can take her love from you," said Jaques. 
" But this must be inquired into; it will remove all ob- 
stacles to her marriage." 

" Obstacles!" exclaimed Andrew; " what do you mean? 
Of course it must be inquired into," he said, rather pet- 
tishly, " and I must be on the spot to do it. I will go 
with you to London, Jaques." 

"And leave the ladies here?" 

" Yes; if Lady Norton will have Perdita, I will tell her, 
but I will not have the child disturbed; do you hear?" 

"No," said Jaques, sadly; "she will know soon enough." 

Accordingly, Mr. Lovel and Jaques set off by them- 
selves, leaving Perdita greatly wondering and disturbed 
at their mysterious proceedings. 

About a week passed, then Lady Norton told Perdita 
that she had heard from Mr. Lovel, and that she was going 
to take her and Miss Grey to London. 

Perdita was bewildered, but she packed up her things, 
and with regret they bade adieu to lovely, sunny Fontaiue- 
bleau, gave their last handful of bread to the oH carp, 
and started homeward. 

They had to leave Paris very early to catch the tidal 
train, and it was nearly seven o'clock before, dusty and 
weary, they reached their destination, Thomas's Hotel, in 
Berkeley Square. 

Andrew and Jaques were there to receive them. An- 
drew looked far better and more animated. The necessi- 
ty for exertion had done him good. He had secured a 
sitting-room for Perdita, and there, holding her hand, 
with tears in his eyes, told her that papers had been found, 
and that the stain that during all these long years had 
rested on her mother's name was wiped away for ever. 

"They claim you, my child," said Andrew, his voice 
faltering. " You are no longer all my own." 



160 DITA. 

Here he thoroughly broke down; but Dita, kneeling by 
his side, repeated over and over again that no name, no 
new relations, could ever make her love her adopted father 
less. 

"How pleased mammie would have been!" she said, 
her tears overflowing when she thought of the dear one 
who had never let her want a mother's tenderest love. 

Andrew told her all he knew that the papers had been 
found in a secret drawer of a bureau that was originally in 
Ewan Macmonach's room, and it was generally supposed 
that he had placed them there for additional safety. 

" Your uncle has behaved most handsomely, Perdita," 
he said. " His one wish and that of Lady Grisel his 
mother, is to see you in full possession of your own as soon 
as possible. To-morrow he is coming here, anxious to 
have one interview with you before he leaves England. 
His wife's death has shattered him," said he, feelingly. 

Perdita lay long awake that night, her mind in a whirl 
of thought. 

The next morning she had scarcely finished breakfast 
before Angus Macmonach arrived. 

" Your uncle, Perdita," said Andrew, rather pompous- 
ly. And he left them alone together. 

Angus was dressed in deep mourning, and his face 
was pale and haggard. 

" You have been told?" he said, abruptly and sitting 
down in front of Perdita, he pushed the damp hair back 
from his brow. 

" Yes," she said gently; "and I am very glad. It is 
untold joy to know that I may honor my father's memory 
as I do my mother's; bat," slie added, putting out her 
hand and touching his, " the money is nothing to me. I 
cannot bear that you should leave Dunmonaigh. I am 
grieved for you; and you have been so noble, so generous, 
in thus seeking me out." 

"Hush!" he cried. "Stop! you do not know what 
you say." There was such a sound of acute pain in his 
voice that Perdita started: he suddenly bent forward, 
"Can you keep a secret?" he said, hoarsely. 

" Yes," she answered. He rose and walked thrice up 
and down, then suddenly flinging himself into a chair he 
began : 



DITA. 161 

' ' Ewan and I were nearly of an age, and people say that 
two such brothers are generally inseparable. It was never 
so with us; the nurses used to say, this child is his father's 
own, and this his mother's. Fortune plays strange tricks: 
if I had been the eldest, he the younger son, neither would 
have suffered as we did. My father never cared for me, 
my mother idolized me. Ewan would have loved me if I 
had willed it so; but I saw that I, the cleverer one, with 
better intellect and stronger powers, was hedged in, crush- 
ed on every side, for want of that wealth he valued so lit- 
tle. There are moments (and this is one) in which men 
speak their thoughts straight out. I knew myself to pos- 
sess the stronger mind and intellect. I envied his rare 
beauty, his attractiveness, the influence he possessed over 
others, which in my hands would have been a tower of 
strength, and in his was only a means of attaching person- 
al love. I never tried to curb my jealousy, and it became 
the strongest passion of my life. 

"Then came a day on which once more my hopes were 
raised. Do not shrink back! human nature is complex. 
I swear I did net desire my brother's death, but he was 
dying, and I did desire the power that would come to me. 

"It was near, in my very hand; and, mark you, I was 
unjustly used by fortune. I was given faculties that I 
could never develop, hopes never to be fulfilled, visions 
never to be grasped. Good heavens! the bitterness of that 
moment is engraven on my brain! All shattered in a 
moment, I knew that I was again what I had been before 
that that woman was my brother's wife, that child his 
lawful heir." 

"You knew it?" Perdita recoiled from him. 

" Listen; despise me as you will, but hear mo to the 
end. It was night, my mother was asleep, not a creature 
stirring in the house, no human being shared the tumult 
of my soul, no prayer for me was going up to Heaven, and 
1 had to fight the fight alone with a tempter who called 
to his aid every jealous thought, every devil that had 
triumphed in my soul since I had grown to hate my 
brother. I rose up and paced my room. It was a 
wonderful moonlit night there was light for my purpose. 
I crossed the loch; the keys fitted; I took the papers from 
old Malcolm's care, and filled the packet with blank paper, 
gealed it with this, my brother's sisuet-ring, and home," 



162 DITA. 

Perdita leant back in her chair, her face covered with 
her hands. He went on: 

"I never destroyed the papers, remember! I would not 
have done that." The man's warped nature always dwelt 
on this as on a merit; his voice became hoarse. " They 
came with their proofs, and I had to sit there, and see her 
heart break before my eyes; but I bore it, I had strength 
then, it is gone now. AncLsince I have seen you, I see 
again her haunting eyes, appealing first, then wild with 
a terrible despair. She went away, hide your face; do 
not look at me, she went away. I wrote to her un- 
known to all. I sent her a hundred, then two hundred 
pounds. It never reached her, for before then she was 
dead; she died of a broken heart. If she had lived I 
do not know I might have righted her; but she died, 
leaving a nameless pauper child." 

Perdita sprang from her chair and stood looking at 
him with dilated eyes and panting breath. He breathed 
hard, and with a sudden change of voice went on: 

" Years passed, and I suppose that I must have for- 
gotten her, but I was not happy. Not in all myjife have 
I been what the world calls happy. I have been haunted 
by the past; the reasonings of years never laid the specter 
of remorse, and when I had schooled my life to a calm 
and even level, now and then would come over me a cold 
nervous shiver, an agony of fear, and it was long before I 
was myself again. Years passed, you know the rest." 

Perdita was trembling from head to foot. 

'' I had an idle dream that a young sweet wife would 
lull these thoughts to rest. I thought, believe me, I thought 
indeed that my brother's child was dead. I taught my- 
self to be certain that it was so. I brought her home to 
Dunmonaigh, my little wife, and then I prayed. I asked 
God to let me love her, and let her sweet nature soften 
the cold hardness of my heart. I prayed, but I had not 
made restitution, and my prayer was denied!" 

Perdita softly laid her hand upon his arm. 

" You knew Mabel," he went on; " you knew what she 
was how sweet, and young, and gay! You can recall her 
image, with her soft hair and her loving eyes. Who 
could see her and not love her! And yet I was hard and 
harsh to her. Too long self-suppressed, I dreaded emo- 



DITA. 1G3 

tion. I dared not give rein to any feeling, whether of 
joy or hope or love. I was cold to her. I did not even 
love her then, for a barrier seemed to keep ns apart. She 
did not understand me, and I dreaded lest she should. 
I prayed then, but my prayer was denied." 

He paused, panting, then went on: 

"Then then, you know, she found those papers; and 
oh God! the discovery killed her. My mother uttered 
words that never will leave my memory ' First Assunta, 
now Mabel.' I was shooting on Benichon, and they bid 
me come home, and I was too late: not one word not one. 
My God was a Nemesis. 1 have not known one moment's 
rest since my wife died." 

Angus covered his face with his hands, and wept with 
the awful overwhelming grief of a strong man crushed. 
Perdita, terrified and in sore trouble, knew not what to 
do, but gently stroked his knee. 

Presently he raised his head, and took her hand in both 
of his. " I have but one hope in life now," he said, " and 
that is, that you, in their names and your own, will for- 
give me." 

"I do I forgive you, as I hope to be forgiven; and in 
my father's and my mother's names I pray to God to for- 
give you freely." 

He pressed her hand to his lips, then rose up. 

" Good-by," he said "I am going abroad; perhaps I 
may never return again. You will take care of my 
mother, will you not?" 

"I will indeed." 

" And try to be to her what she was?" 

" I will try." 

He looked at her very wistfully. " Perdita," he said, 
"you loved Mabel; you knew her very well; tell me, was 
she very unhappy?" 

Perdita could not speak, the tears rained down her 
cheeks. She had only had one little heart-broken note 
from Mabel; telling her that marriage was a sad and 
miserable thing. Angus looked at her fixedly. 

"Do not answer me," he said, "only say good-by; I 
must go." 

Once more he kissed her hand, and left the room. 

Perdita sat down: she was utterly bewildered by all that 



164 DITA. 

had passed, and strove to collect her thoughts. Her 
whole mind being intent on the one subject, she did not 
hear a rapid foot cross the room, and did not look up till 
Edward Norton stood before*her. In one moment she was 
sobbing cm his breast. All, all had passed away this 
terrible story of guilt and sorrow and bereavement and 
a new and boundless heaven of joy was opening before 
her. To her life's end Perdita Maemonaeh faithfully 
kept the unhappy Augus's secret. 

The next morning Perdita was taken to Lady Armine'i 
house to see Lady Grisel. 

It was a very sad meeting at first; all the black dress 
and sad faces brought poor pretty Mabel vividly to Per- 
dita'smind. In spite of the new bright joy that seemed 
to transform her, she could not suppress her tears when 
Lady Grisel took her in her arms and kissed her. Those 
tears won the lonely woman's heart at once. She had 
felt as if she could never love another fair young girl as 
she had loved her daughter-in-law. She felt almost jeal- 
ous of a youth and beauty that might try to rival Mabel 
in her love. But she found not a rival but a fellow- 
mourner who had known Mabel, and whom Mabel had 
often spoken of as "so beautiful and so charming." 

Then came a new sense of possession, for at once the 
mother's eye caught the strong resemblance to her hand- 
some son. The fair brow, the curve of lip and chin all 
brought Ewan to her mind so much, that it seemed as if 
she would never weary of tracing every line in Perdita's 
face. 

Lady Grisel was anxious that the two weddings should 
be soon before the winter came. They must be very 
quiet, and take place in London. 

The lawyers demanded at least six weeks to arrange 
Perdita's elaborate settlements; and when this was to be 
done, Andrew told his own views for the future. He 
absolutely refused to return to Salford. He said he could 
never bear the place without his wife, and he could only 
be thankful that now his duty need not compel him to go 
there. He would live in London with Jaques. The 
estate should be absolutely settled on Perdita and her 
husband. 

On a cold brilliant day in the first days of November, 



DITA. 165 

all signs of mourning were put aside, and Margaret Gris- 
elda Macmonach and Mildred G ret hard were married. 

There were anxious loving prayers going up to God all 
day: -smiles for the present, and tears for the past. 

On Mabel's grave Angus had caused a stone of marble, 
white and pure as driven snow, to be placed, and on it, in 
small letters, carved 

MABEL MACMONACH, 

Aged 20 years, 

HER INFANT SON. 



" Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: 
but weep sore for him that goeth away; for h 
shall return no more, nor see Iris native country." 



THE END. 



The Ghost of Charlotte Cray. 



MR. SIGISMUND BRAGGETT was sitting in the little room 
he called his study, wrapped in a profound not to say a 
mournful reverie. Now, there was nothing in the 
present life nor surroundings of Mr. Braggett to account 
for such a demonstration. He was a publisher and book- 
seller; a man well to do, with a thriving business in the 
city, and the prettiest of all pretty villas at Streatham. 
And he was only just turned forty; had not a gray hair 
in his head nor a false tooth in his mouth; and had been 
married but three short months to one of the fairest and 
most affectionate specimens of English womanhood that 
ever transformed a bachelor's quarters into Paradise. 

What more could Mr. Sigismnnd Braggett possibly 
want? Nothing! His trouble lay in the fact that he had 
got rather more than he wanted. Most of us have our 
little peccadilloes in this world awkward reminiscences 
that we would like to bury five fathoms deep, and never 
hear mentioned again, but that have an uncomfortable 
habit of cropping up at the most inconvenient moments; 
and no mortal is more likely to be troubled with them 
than a middle-aged bachelor who has taken to matrimony. 

Mr. Sigismund Braggett had no idea what he was going 
in for when he led the blushing Emily Primrose up to the 
altar and swore to be hers, and hers only, until death 
should them part. He had no conception a woman's 
curiosity could be so keen, her tongue so long, and her 
inventive faculties so correct. He had spent whole days 
before the fatal moment of marriage in burning letters, 
erasing initials, destroying locks of hair, and making offer- 
ings of affection look as if he had purchased them with 
his own money. But it had been of little avail. Mrs. 
Braggett had swooped down upon him like a beautiful 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRA.Y. 

bird of prey, and wheedled, coaxed, or kissed him out of 
half his secrets before he knew what he was about. But 
he had never told her about Charlotte Cray. And now 
he almost wished that he had done so, for Charlotte Cray 
was the cause of his present dejected mood. 

Now, there are ladies and Indies in this world. Some 
are very shy, and will only permit themselves to be wooed 
by stealth. Others, again, are the pursuers rather than 
the pursued, and chase the wounded or the flying even to 
the very doors of their stronghold, or lie in wait for them 
like an octopus, stretching out their tentacles on every 
side in search of victmis. 

And to the latter class Miss Charlotte Cray decidedly 
belonged. Not a person worth mourning over, you will 
ir.iturally say. Bat, then, Mr. Sigismund Braggett had 
not behaved well to her. She was one of the " peccadil- 
loes." She was an authoress not an author, mind you, 
which term smacks more of the profession than the sex 
but an "authoress," with lots of the "ladylike" about 
the plots of her stories and meter of her rhymes. They 
had come together in the sweet connection of publisher 
and writer had met first in a dingy, dusty little office at 
the back of his house of business, and laid the foundation 
of their friendship with the average amount of chaffering 
and prevarication that usually attend such proceedings. 

Mr. Braggett ran a risk in publishing Miss Cray's 
tales or verses, but he found her useful in so many other 
ways that he used occasionally to hold forth a sop to 
Cerberus in the shape of publicity for the sake of keeping 
her 'in his employ. For Miss Charlotte Cray who was 
as old as himself, and had arrived at the period of life 
when women are said to pray "Any, good Lord, any!" 
was really a clever woman, and could turn her hand 
to most things required of her, or upon which she had 
set her mind; and she had most decidedly set her mind 
upon marrying Mr. Braggett, and lie to serve his own 
purposes had permitted her to cherish the idea, and this 
was the Nemesis that was weighing him down in the 
study at the present moment. He had complimented 
Miss Cray, and given her present?, and taken her out 
a-pleasuring, all because she was useful to him, and did 
odd jobs that no one else would undertake, and for less 
than any one else would have accepted; and he had known 



THE <;F CSAtlLOTTB CRAY. 5 

the while that she was in love with him, and that she be- 
lieved lie was in love with her. 

He had not thought much of it at the time. He had 
not then made up his mind to marry Emily Primrose, and 
considered that what pleased Miss Cray, and harmed no 
one else, was fair play for all sides. But he had come to 
see things differently now. He had been married three 
months, and the first two weeks had been very bitter ones 
to him. Miss Cray had written him torrents of reproaches 
during that unhappy period, besides calling day after day 
at his office to deliver them in person. This and her 
threats had frightened him out of his life. He had lived 
in hourly terror lest the clerks should overhear what 
passed at their interviews, or that his wife should be made 
acquainted with them. 

He had implored Miss Cray, both by word of mouth 
and letter, to cease her persecution of him; but all tho 
reply he received was thjit he was a base and perjured 
man, and that she should continue to call at his office, 
and write to him through the penny post, until he had 
introduced her to his wife. For therein lay the height 
and depth of his offending. He had been afraid to bring 
Emily and Miss Cray together, and the latter resented 
the omission as an insult. It was bad enough to find that 
Sigismund Braggett, whose hair she wore next her heart, 
and whose photograph stood as in a shrine upon her bed- 
room mantelpiece, had married another woman, without 
giving her even the chance of a refusal, but it was worse 
still to come to a conclusion that he did not intend her to 
have a glimpse into the garden of Eden he had created 
for himself. 

Miss Cray was a lady of vivid imagination and strong 
aspirations. All was not lost in her ideas, although Mr. 
Braggett had proved false to the hopes he had raised. 
Wives did not live for ever; and the chances and changes 
of this life were so numerous, that stranger things had 
happened than that Mr. Braggett might think fit to make 
bett'er use of the second opportunity afforded him than he 
had done of the first. But if she were not to continue 
even his friend, it was too hard. But the perjured pub- 
lisher had continued resolute, notwithstanding all Miss 
Cray's presecution, and now he had neither seen nor heard 
from her for a month; and, man-like, he was beginning 



6 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

to wonder what had become of her, and whether she had 
found anybody to console her for his untruth. Mr. Brag- 
gett did not wish to comfort Miss Cray himself; but he 
did aot quite like the notion of her being comforted. 

After all so he soliloquized he had been very cruel to 
her; for the poor thing was devoted to him. How her 
eyes used to sparkle and her cheek to flush when she en- 
tered his office, and how eagerly she would undertake any 
work for him, however disagreeable to perform! He knew 
well that she had expected to be Mrs. Braggett, and it must, 
have been a terrible disappointment to her when he mar- 
ried Emily Primrose. 

Why had he not asked her out to Violet Villa since? 
What harm could she do as a visitor there? particularly if 
lie cautioned her first as to the peculiarity of Mrs. Brag- 
get t's disposition, and the quickness with which her 
jealousy was excited. It was close upon Christmas-time, 
the period when all old friends meet together and patch up, 
if they cannot entirely forget, everything that has an- 
noyed them in the past. Mr. Braggett pictured to him- 
self the poqr old maid sitting solitary in her small rooms 
at Hammersmith, no longer able to live in the expectation 
of seeing his manly form at the wicket-gate, about to en- 
ter and cheer her solitude. The thought smote him as a 
two-edged swo:-d, and he sat down at once and penned 
Miss Charlotte a note, in which he inquired after her 
health, and hoped that they should soon see her at Violet 
Villa. 

He felt much better after this note was written and 
dispatched. He came out of the little study and entered 
the cheerful drawing-room, and sat with his pretty wife by 
the light of the fire, telling her of the lonely lady to whom 
be had just proposed to introduce her. 

"An old friend of mine, Emily. A clever, agreeable 
woman, though rather eccentric. You will be polite to 
her, I know, for my sake." 

"An old woman, is she?" said Mrs. Braggett, elevating 
her eyebrows. "And what do you call 'old/ Siggy, I 
should like to know?" 

"Twice as old as yourself, my dear five-anil- forty at 
the very least, and not personable-looking, even for that 
age. Yet I think you will find her a pleasant companion, 
and I am sure she will be enchanted with you." 



THE GHOST OP CHARLOTTE CRAY. 7 

" I don't know that: clever women don't like me, as a 
rule, though I don't know why." 

" They are jealous of your beauty, my darling; but Miss 
Cray is above such meanness, and will value you for your 
own sake." 

" She'd better not let me catch her valuing me for 
yours, 1 " responded Mrs. Braggett, with a flash of the eye 
that made her husband ready to regret the dangerous ex- 
periment he was about to make of bringing together two 
women who had each, in her own way, a claim upon him, 
and each the will to maintain it. 

So he dropped the subject of Miss Charlotte Cray, and 
took to admiring his wife's complexion instead, so that 
the evening passed harmoniously, and both parties were 
satisfied. 

For two days Mr. Braggett received no answer from 
Miss Cray, which rather surprised him. He had quite 
expected that on the reception of his invitation she would 
rush down to his office and into his arms, behind the 
shelter of the ground- glass door that inclosed his chair of 
authority. For Miss Charlotte had been used on occa- 
sions to indulge in rapturous demonstrations of the sort, 
and the remembrance of Mrs. Braggett located in Violet 
Villa would have been no obstacle whatever to her. She 
believed she had a prior claim to Mr. Braggett How- 
ever, nothing of the kind happened, and the perjured 
publisher was becoming strongly imbued with the idea 
that he must go out to Hammersmith and see if he could 
not make his peace with her in person, particularly as he 
had several odd jobs for Christmastide, which no one 
could undertake so well as herself, when a letter with a 
black-edged border was put into his hand. He opened it 
mechanically, not knowing the writing; but its contents 
shocked him beyond measure. 

"HONORED SIR, I am sorry to tell you that Miss Cray died at 
my house ;i week ago, and was buried yesterday. She spoke of you 
leveral times during her last illness, and if you would like to hear 
any further particulars, and will call on me at the old address, I 
shall be most happy to furnish you with them. Yours respectfully, 

" MARY THOMPSON." 

When Mr. Braggett read this news, you might have 
knocked him over with a feather. It is not always true 
that a living dog is better than a dead liou. Some people 



8 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

gain considerably in the estimation of their friends by 
leaving this world, and Miss Charlotte Cray was one of 
them. Her persecution had ceased for ever, and her 
amiable weaknesses were alone held in romembrance. 
Mr. Braggett felt a positive relief in the knowledge that 
his dead friend and his wife would never now be 
^ brought in contact with each other; but at the same 
time he blamed himself more than was needful, per- 
haps, for not having seen nor communicated with Miss 
Cray for so long before her death. He came down to 
breakfast with a portentously grave face that morning, 
and imparted the sad intelligence to Mrs. Braggett with 
the air of an undertaker. Emily wondered, pitied, and 
sympathized, but the dead lady was no more to her than 
any other stranger; and she was surprised her husband 
looked so solemn over it all. Mr. Braggett, however, 
could not dismiss the subject easily from his mind. It 
haunted him during the business hours of the morning, 
and as soon as he could conveniently leave his office, lie 
posted away to Hammersmith. The little house in which 
Miss Cray used to live looked just the same, both inside 
and outside: how strange it seemed that she should have 
flown away from it for ever! And here was her landlady, 
Mrs. Thompson, bobbing and courtesy ing to him in the 
same old black net cap with artificial flowers in it, and 
the same stuff gown she had worn since he first saw her, 
with her apron in her hand, it is true, ready to go to her 
eyes as soon as a reasonable opportunity occurred, but 
otherwise the same Mrs. Thompson as before. And yet 
she would never wait upon her again: 

" It was all so sudden, sir," she said, in answer to Mr. 
Braggett's inquiries, " that there was no time to send for 
nobody." 

"But Miss Cray had my address." 

"Ah! perhaps so; but she was off her head, poor dear, 
and couldn't think jf nothing. But she remembered 
you, sir, to the last; for the very morning she died, sho 
sprung up in bed and called out, ' Sigismund! Sigismund!' 
as loud as ever she could, and she never spoke to anybody 
afterward, not one word." 

"She left no message for me?" 

"None, sir. I asked her the day before she went if I 
was to say nothing to you for her (knowing you was such 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTi'E CRAY. 9 

friends), and all her answer was, ' I wrote to him. He's 
got my letter.' So I thought, perhaps, you had heard, 
sir." 

" Not for some time past. It seems terribly sudden to 
me, not having heard even of her illness. Where is she 
buried?" 

" Close by in the churchyard, sir. My little girl will 
go with you and show you the place, if you'd like to see 
it." 

Mr. Braggett accepted her offer and left. 

When lie was standing by a heap of clods they called a 
grave, and had dismissed the child, he drew out Miss 
Cray's last letter, which he carried in his pocket, and 
read it over. 

" You tell me that I am not to call at your office again, except on 
business " (so it ran), " nor to send letters to your private address, 
lest it should come to the knowledge of your wife, and create un- 
pleasantness between you; but I shall call, and I shall write, until I 
have seen Mrs. Braggett, and, if you don't take care, I will intro- 
duce myself to her and tell her the reason you have been afraid to 
do so." 

This letter had made Mr. Braggett terribly angry at 
the time of reception. He had puffed and fumed, and 
cursed Miss Charlotte by all his gods for daring to threaten 
him. But he read it with different feelings now Miss 
Charlotte was down there, six feet beneath the ground he 
stood on, and he could feel only compassion for her frenzy, 
and resentment against himself for having excited it. As 
he traveled home from Hammersmith to Streatham, he 
was a very dejected publisher indeed. 

He did not tell Mrs. Braggett the reason of his melan- 
choly, but it affected him to that degree that he could not 
go to office on the following day, but stayed at home in- 
stead, to be petted and waited* upon by his pretty wife, 
which treatment resulted in a complete cure. The next 
morning, therefore, he started for London as briskly as 
ever, and arrived at office before his usual time. A clerk, 
deputed to receive all messages for his master, followed 
him behind the ground-glass doors, with a packet of let- 
ters. 

" Mr. Van Ower was here yesterday, sir. He will let 
you have the copy before the end of the week, and Messrs. 
Hanley's foreman called on particular business, and will 



10 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

look in to-day at eleven. And Mr. Ellis came to ask if 
there was any answer to his letter yet; and Miss Cray 
called, sir; and that's all." 

" Wlio did you say?'' cried Braggett. 

" Miss Cray, sir. She waited for yon above an hour, 
but I told her I thought you couldn't mean to come into 
town at all, so she went." 

"Do you know what you're talking about, Hewetson? 
You said Miss Cray /" 

" And I meant it, sir Miss Charlotte Cray. Burns 
spoke to her as well as I." 

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Mr. Braggett, turning as 
white as a sheet. "Go at once and send Burns to me." 
Burns came. 

"Burns, who was the lady that called to see me yester- 
day?" 

" Miss Cray, sir. She had a very thick veil on, and she 
looked so pale that I asked her if she had been ill, and 
she said 'Yes.' She sat in the office for over an hour, 
hoping you'd come in, but as you didn't, she went away 
again." 

"Did she lift her veil?" 

" Not whilst I spoke to her, sir." 

" How do you know it was Miss Cray, then?" 

The clerk stared. " Well, sir, we all know her pretty 
well by this time." 

"Did you ask her name?" 

"No, sir; there was no need to do it.'* 

"You're mistaken, that's all, both you and Hewetson. 
It couldn't have been Miss Cray! I know for certain 
that she is is is not in London at present. It must 
have been a stranger." 

" It was not, indeed, sir, begging your pardon. I could 
tell Miss Cray anywhere, by her figure and her voice, with- 
out seeing her face. But I did see her face, and remarked 
how awfully pale she was just like death, sir!" 

" There! there! that will do! It's of no consequence, 
and you can go back to your work." 

But any one who had seen Mr. Braggett, when left 
alone in hia office, would not have said he thought the 
matter of no consequence. The perspiration broke out 
upon his forehead, although it was December, and ho 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 11 

rocked himself backward and forward in his chair with 
agitation. 

At last he rose hurriedly, upset his throne, and dashed 
through the outer premises in the face of twenty people 
waiting to speak to him. As soon as he could find his 
voice, he hailed a hansom, and drove to Hammersmith. 
Good Mrs. Thompson opening the door to him, thought 
he looked as if he had just come out of a fever. 

' ' Lor' bless me, sir! whatever's the matter?" 

" Mrs. Thompson, have you told me the truth aboufc 
Miss Cray? Is she really dead?" 

"Really dead, sir! Why, I closed her eyes, and put her 
in the coffin with my own hands! If she ain't dead, I 
don't know who is! But if you doubt my word, you'd 
better ask the doctor that gave the certificate for her." 

'' What is the doctor's name?" 

"Dodson; he lives opposite." 

"You must forgive my strange questions, Mrs. Thomp- 
son, but I have had a terrible dream about my poor friend, 
and I think I should like to talk to the doctor about her.'' 

"Oh, very good, sir," cried the landlady, much offend- 
ed. "I'm not afraid of what the doctor will tell you. 
She had excellent nursing and everything as she could 
desire, and there's nothing on my conscience on that 
score, so I'll wish you good morning." And with that 
Mrs. Thompson slammed the door in Mr. Braggett's face. 

He found Dr. Dodson at home. 

" If I understand you rightly," said the practitioner, 
looking rather steadfastly in the scared face of his visitor, 
"you wish, as a friend of the late Miss Cray's, to see a 
copy of the certificate of her death? Very good, sir; 
here it is. She died, as you will perceive, on the twenty- 
fifth of November, of peritonitis. She had, I can assure 
you, every attention and care, but nothing could have 
saved her." 

"You are quite sure, then, she is dead?" demanded Mr. 
Braggett, in a vague manner. 

The doctor looked at him as if he were not quite sure 
if he were sane. 

"If seeing a patient die, and her corpse coffined and 
buried, is being sure she is dead, /am in no doubt what- 
ever about Miss Cray." 

" It is very strange most strange and unaccountable/' 



12 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

murmured poor Mr. Braggetfc, in reply, as he shuffled out 
of the doctor's passage, and took his way back to the 
office. 

Here, however, after an interval of rest and a strong 
brandy and soda, he managed to pull himself together, 
and to come to the conclusion that the doctor and Mrs. 
Thompson could not be mistaken, and that, consequently, 
the clerks must. He did not mention the subject again 
to them, however; and as the days went on, and nothing 
more was heard of the mysterious stranger's visit, Mr. 
Braggett put it altogether out of his mind. 

At the end of a fortnight, however, when he was think- 
ing of something totally different, young Hewetson re- 
marked to him, carelessly, 

" Miss Cray was here again yesterday, sir. She walked 
in just as your cab had left the door." 

All the horror of his first suspicions returned with 
double force upon the unhappy man's mind. 

" Don't talk nonsense!" he gasped, angrily, as soon as 
he could speak. " Don't attempt to play any of your 
tricks on me, young man, or it will be the worse for you, 
1 can tell you." 

'Tricks, sir," stammered the clerk. "I don't know 
what yon are alluding to. I am only telling you the truth. 
You have always desired me to be most particular in let- 
ting you know the names of the people who call in your 
absence, and I thought I was only doing my duty in mak- 
ing a point of ascertaining them " 

"Yes, yes! Hewetson, of course," replied Mr. Brag- 
gett, passing his handkerchief over his brow, "and you 
are quite right in following my directions as closely as 
possible; only in this case you are completely mistaken, 
and it is the second time you have committed the error." 

"Mistaken!" 

"Yes! as mistaken as it is possible for a man to bo! 
Miss Cray could not have called at this office yesterday." 

"'But she did, sir." 

"Am I laboring under some horrible nightmare?" ex- 
claimed the publisher, " or are we playing at cross pur- 
poses? Can yon mean the Miss Cray I mean?" 

"I am speaking of Miss Charlotte Cray, sir, the author 
of 'Sweet Gwendoline,' the lady who has undertaken so 
much of our compilation the last two years, and who haa 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 13 

along nose, and wears her hair in curls. I never knew 
there was another Miss Cray; but if there are two, that is 
the one I mean." 

"Still T at/mot believe it. Hewetson, for the Miss Cray 
who has been associated with our 3rm died on the twenty- 
fifth of last month." 

"Dial, sir! Is Miss Cray dead? Oh, it can't be! It's 
some humbugging trick that's been played upon you, for 
I'd swear she was in this room yesterday afternoon, as 
full of life as she's ever been since I knew her. She didn't 
talk much, it's true, for she seemed in a hurry to be off 
again, but she had got on the same dress and bonnet she 
was in here last, and she made herself as much at home in 
the office as she ever did. Besides," continued Hewetson, 
as tho.igh suddenly remembering something, "she left a 
note for you, sir." 

' A note! "Why did you not say so before?" 

" It slipped my memory when you began to doubt my 
word in that way, sir. But you'll find it in the bronze 
vase. She told me to tell you she had placed it there." 

Mr. Braggett made a dash at the vase, and found the 
three-cornered note as he had been told. Yes! it was 
Charlotte's handwriting, or the facsimile of it, there was 
no doubt of that; and his hands shook so he could hardly 
open the paper. It contained these words: 

" You tell me that I am not to call at your office again, except on 
business, nor to send letters to your private address, lest it should 
come to the knowledge of your wife, and create unpleasantness 
en you; but I ahaR calf, and I flmll write until 1 have seen 
Mrs. Braggett, and if you don't take care I will introduce myself to 
her, and tell her the reason 3*011 have been afraid to do so." 

Precisely the same words, in the same writing of the 
letter he still carried in his breast pocket, and which no 
mortal eyes but his and hers had ever seen. As the un- 
happy man sat gazing at the opened note, his whole body 
shook as if he were attacked by ague. 
. " It is Miss Cray's handwriting, isn't it, sir?" 

"It looks like it, Hewetson. but it cannot be. I tell 
you it is an impossibility! Miss Cray died last month, 
and I have seen not only her grave, but the doctor and 
nurse who attended her in her last illness. It is folly, 
then, to suppose either that she called here or wrote that 
letter." 



14 THE GHOST OP CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

" Then who could it have been, sir?" said Hewetson, 
attacked with a sudden terror in his turn. 

v That is impossible for rne to say; but should the lady 
eall again, you had better ask her boldly for her name and 
address." 

" I'd rather you'd depute the office to anybody but me, 
sir," replied the clerk, as he hastily backed out of the 
room. 

Mr. Braggett, dying with suspense and conjecture, went 
tli rough his business as best he could, and hurried home 
to Violet Villa. 

There he found that his wife had been spending the 
day with a friend, and only entered the house a few min- 
utes before himself. 

" Siggy, dear!" she commenced, as soon as he joined 
her in the drawing-room after dinner; "I really think we 
should have the fastenings and bolts of this house looked 
to. Such a funny thing happened while I was out this 
afternoon. Ellen has just been telling me about it." 

" What sort of a thing, dear?" 

" Well, I left home as early as twelve, you know, and 
told the servants I shouldn't be back until dinner- time; 
so they were all enjoying themselves in the kitchen, I 
suppose, when cook told Ellen she heard a footstep in the 
drawing-room. Ellen thought at first it must be cook's 
fancy, because she was sure the front door was fastened; 
but when they listened, they all heard the noise together, 
so she ran upstairs, and what on earth do you think she 
saw?" 

" How can I guess, my dear?" 

" Why, a lady, seated in this very room, as if she was 
waiting for somebody. She was oldish, Ellen says, and 
had a very white face, with long curls hanging down each 
side of it; and she wore a blue bonnet with white feath- 
ers, and a long black cloak, and " 

"Emily, Emily! Stop! You don't know what you're 
talking about. That girl is a fool: you must send her 
away. That is, how could the lady have got in if the 
door was closed? Good Heavens! you'll all drive me mad 
between you with your folly!" exclaimed Mr. Braggett, 
as he threw himself back in his chair, with an exclamation 
that sounded very like a groan. 

Pretty Mrs. Braggett was offended. What had she said 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 15 

or done that her husband should doubt her \vord? She 
tossed her iiead in indignation, and remained silent. If 
Mr. Braggett wanted any further information, he would 
have to apologize. 

"Forgive me, darling," he said, after a long pause. I 
don't think I'm very well this evening, but your story 
seemed to upset me." 

" I don't see why it should upset you," returned Mrs. 
Braggett. "If strangers are allowed to come prowling 
about the house in this way, we shall be robbed some day, 
and then you'll say I should have told you of it." 

" Wouldn't she this person give her name?" 

" Oh! I'd rather say no more about it. You had better 
ask Ellen." 

" No, Emily! I'd rather hear it from you." 

" Well, don't interrupt me again, then. When Ellen 
saw the woman seated here, she asked her her name and 
business at once, but she gave no answer, and only sat 
and stared at her. And so Ellen, feeling very uncomfort- 
able, had just turned round to call up cook, when the 
woman got up, and dashed past her like a flash of light- 
ning, and they saw nothing more of her!" 

" Which way did she leave the house?" 

" Nobody knows any more than how she came in. The 
servants declare the hall door was neither opened nor 
shut but, of course, it must have been. She was a tall 
gaunt woman, Ellen says, about fifty, and she's sure her 
hair was dyed. She must have come to steal something, 
and that's why I say we ought to have the house made 
more secure. Why, Siggy! Siggy! what's the matter? 
Here, Ellen! Jane! come quick, some of you! Your 
master's fainted!" 

And, sure enough, the repeated shocks and horrors of 
the day had had such an effect upon poor Mr. Braggett, 
that for a moment he did lose all consciousness of what 
surrounded him. He was thankful to take advantage of 
the Christmas holidays, to run over to Paris with his wife, 
and try to forget, in the many marvels of that city, the 
awful fear that fastened upon him at the mention of any- 
thing connected with home. He might be enjoying him- 
self to the top of his bent; but directly the remembrance 
of Charlotte Cray crossed his mind, all sense of enjoyment 
vanished, and he trembled at the mere thought of re- 



16 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

turning to his business, as a child does when sent to bed 
in the dark. 

He tried to hide the state of his feelings from Mrs. 
Braggett, but she was too sharp for him. The simple, 
blushing Ernily Primrose had developed, under the influ- 
ence of the matrimonial forcing-frame, into a good watch- 
dog, and nothing escaped her notice. 

Left to her own conjecture, she attributed his frequent 
moods of dejection to the existence of some other woman, 
and became jealous accordingly. If Siggy did not love 
her, why had he married her? She felt certain there was 
some other horrid creature who had engaged his affections 
and would not leave him alone, even nosv that he was her 
own lawful property. And to find out who the "horrid 
creature " was became Mrs. Emily's constant idea. When 
she had found out, she meant to give her a piece of her 
mind, never fear! Meanwhile Mr. Braggett's evident 
distaste to returning to business only served to increase 
his wife's suspicions. A clear conscience, she argued, 
would know no fear. So they were not a happy couple, as 
they set their faces once more toward England. Mr. 
Braggett's dread of re-entering his office amounted almost 
to terror, and Mrs. Braggett, putting this and that to- 
gether, resolved that she would fathom the mystery, if it 
lay in feminine finesse to do so. She did not whisper a 
word of her intentions to dear Siggy, you may be sure of 
that! She worked after the manner of her amiable sex, 
like a cat in the dark, or a worm boring through the 
earth, and appearing on the surface when least expected. 

So poor Mr. Braggett brought her home again, heavy 
at heart indeed, but quite ignorant that any designs were 
being made against him. I think he would have given a 
thousand pounds to be spared the duty of attending office 
the day after his arrival. But it was necessary, and he 
went, like a publisher and a Briton. But Mrs. Emily 
had noted his trepidation and his fears, and laid her plans 
accordingly. She had never been asked to enter those 
mysterious precincts, the house of business. Mr. Braggett 
had not thought it necessary that her blooming loveliness 
should be made acquainted with its dingy, dusty accesso- 
ries, but she meant to see them for herself to-da} 7 . So she 
waited till he had left Violet Villa ten minutes, and then 
she dressed and followed him bv the next train to London* 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 1* 

Mr. Sigismund Braggett meanwhile had gone on his 
way, as people go to a dentist, determined to do what was 
right, but with an indefinite sort of idea that lie might 
never come out of it alive. He dreaded to hear what 
might have happened in his absence, and he delayed his 
arrival at the office for half-an-hour, by walking there in- 
stead of taking a cab as usual, in order to put off the evil 
moment. As he entered the place, however, he saw at a 
glance that his efforts were vain, and that something had 
occurred. The customary formality and precision of the 
office were upset, and the clerks, instead of bending over 
their ledgers, or attending to the demands of business, 
were all huddled together at one end whispering and ges- 
ticulating to each other. But as soon as the publisher 
appeared, a dead silence fell upon the group, and they 
only stared at him with an air of horrid mystery. 

' k What is the matter now?" he demanded, angrily, for- 
like most men when in a fright which they are ashamed 
to exhibit, Mr. Sigismund Braggett tried to cover his 
want of courage by bounce. 

The young man called Hewetson advanced toward him, 
with a face the color of ashes, and pointed toward the 
ground-glass doors dumbly. 

" What do you mean? Can't you speak? What's come 
to the lot of you, that you are neglecting my business in 
this fashion to make fools of yourselves?" 

" If you please, sir, she's in there." 

Mr. Braggett started back as if he'd been shot. But 
still he tried to have it out. 

"She! Who's she?" 

" Miss Cray, sir." 

"Haven't I told you already that's a lie." 

"Will you judge for yourself, Mr. Braggett?" said a 
gray-haired man, stepping forward. "I was on the stairs 
myself just now when Miss Cray passed me, and I have no 
doubt whatever but that you will find her in your private 
room, however much the reports that have lately reached 
you may seem against the probability of such a thing." 

Mr. Braggett's teeth chattered in his head as he ad- 
vanced to the groand-glass doors, through the panes of 
one of which there was a little peephole to ascertain if the 
room were occupied or not. He stooped and looked in. 
At the table, with her back toward him, was seated the 



18 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 

well-known figure of Charlotte Cray. He recognized at 
once the long black mantle in which she was wont to drape 
her gaunt figure the blue bonnet, with its dejected-look- 
ing, uncurled feather the lank curls which rested on her 
shoulders and the black-leather bag, with a steel clasp, 
which she always carried in her hand. It was the embodi- 
ment of Charlotte Cray, he had no doubt of that; but 
how could he reconcile the fact of her being there with 
the damp clods he had seen piled upon her grave, with the 
certificate of death, and the doctor's and the landlady's 
assertion that they had watched her last moments? 

At last he prepared with desperate energy, to turn the 
handle of the door. At that moment the attention of the 
more frivolous of the clerks was directed from his actions 
by the entrance of an uncommonly pretty woman at the 
other end of the outer office. Such a lovely creature as 
this seldom brightened the gloom of their dusty abiding- 
place. Lilies, roses, and carnations vied with each other 
in her complexion, whilst the sunniest of locks, and the 
brightest of blue eyes, lent her face a girlish charm not 
easily described. What could this fashionably-attired 
Venus want in their house of business? 

" Is Mr. Braggett here? I am Mrs. Braggett. Please 
how me in to him immediately." 

They glanced at the ground-glass doors of the inner 
office. They had already closed behind the manly form of 
their employer. 

"This way, madam," one said, deferentially, as he es- 
corted her to the presence of Mr, Braggett. 

Meanwhile, Sigismund had opened the portals of the 
Temple of Mystery, and with trembling knees entered it. 
The figure in" the chair did not stir at his approach. He 
stood at the door irresolute. What should he do or say? 

"Charlotte," he whispered. 

Still she did not move. 

At that moment his wife entered. 

"Oh, Sigismund!" cried Mrs. Emily, reproachfully, "I 
knew you were keeping something from me, and now I've 
caught you in the very act. Who is this lady, and what 
is her name? I shall refuse to leave the room until I 
know it." 

At the sound of her rival's voice, the woman in the 
chair rose quickly to her feet and confronted them. Yes! 



THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 19 

there was Charlotte Cray, precisely similar to what she 
had appeared in life, only with an uncertainty and vague- 
ness about the lines of the familiar features that made 
them ghastly. 

She stood there, looking Mrs. Emily full in the face, 
but only for a moment, for, even as she gazed, the line- 
aments grew less and less distinct, with the shape of the 
figure that supported them, until, with a crash, the ap- 
parition seemed to fall in and disappear, and the place 
that had known her was filled with empty air. 

" Where is she gone?" exclaimed Mrs. Braggett, in a 
tone of utter amazement. 

"Where is who gone?" repeated Mr. Braggett, hardly 
able to articulate from fear. 

" The lady in the chair!'' 

" There was no one there except in your own imagina- 
tion. It was my great-coat that you mistook for a figure," 
returned her husband hastily, as he threw the article in 
question over the back of the arm-chair. 

" But how could that have been?" said his pretty wife, 
rubbing her eyes. "How could I think a coat had eyes, 
and hair, and features? I am sure I saw a woman seated 
there, and that she rose and stared at me. Siggy! tell me 
it was true. It seems so incomprehensible that I should 
have been mistaken." 

" You must question your own sense. You see that the 
room is empty now, except for ourselves, and you know 
that no one has left it. If you like to search under the 
table, you can." 

"Ah! now, Siggy, you are laughing at me, because you 
know that would be folly. But there was certainly some 
one here only, where can she have disappeared to?" 

"Suppose we discuss the matter at a more convenient 
season," replied Mr. Braggett, as he drew his wife's arm 
through his arm. " Hewetson ! you will be able to tell Mr. 
Hume that he was mistaken. Say, also, that I shall not 
be back in the office to-day. I am not so strong as I 
thought I was, and feel quite unequal to business. Tell 
him to come out to Streatham this evening with my let- 
ters, and I will talk with him there." 

What passed at that interview was never disclosed; but 
pretty Mrs. Braggett was much rejoiced, a short time af- 
terward, by her husband telling her that he had resolved 



20 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CKAY. 

to resign his active share of the business, and devote the 
rest of his life to her and Violet Villa. He would have no 
more occasion, therefore, to visit the office, and be ex- 
posed to the temptation of spending four or five hours out 
of every twelve away from her side. For, though Mrs. 
Emily had arrived at the conclusion that the momentary 
glimpse she caught of a lady in Siggy's office must have 
been a delusion, she was not quite satisfied by his asser- 
tions that she would never have found a more tangible 
cause for her jealousy. 

But Sigismnnd Braggett knew more than he chose to tell 
Mrs. Emily. He knew that what she had witnessed was no 
delusion, but a reality; and that Charlotte Cray had car- 
ried out her dying determination to call at his office and 
his private residence, until she had seen his wife ! 



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